The Challenges of Future Workplaces – Part 1

This article is part one of an edited version of a keynote presentation I made at the a special WHS Inspectors Forum organised by WorkSafe Tasmania.  The audience comprised inspectors from around Australia and New Zealand.  I was asked to be provocative and challenging so posed some questions to the audience about how occupational health and safety (OHS) is managed, regulated and inspected.

The audio of the presentation is available at SoundCloud and Podbean and below.

 “The purpose of this session is to provide insight into the future challenges for work health and safety regulators due to changes in the nature of work, the workforce, supply chains, and the social and political environments, and encourage inspectors to consider how the way they do their work may need to change to meet these challenges.”

Be Critical

I encourage you all to analyse what you say, what you are told, what you do and how you do it.  Too often we accept information and our situations uncritically and I want you to question everything, including what you read in this article.

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The risks of having an OHS policy

If you ask a lawyer for advice about any issue related to occupational health and safety (OHS) their first piece of advice is likely to be “write a policy”.  There are good legal reasons for advocating a policy, but policies can also create major problems.  Policies are both a reflection of a workplace and the base on which improvements can be created.

Search for OHS policy guidance from the Victorian Government  and it takes you to a page that describes an OHS policy as

“Laws, regulations and compliance codes which set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to ensure that safety is maintained at work.”

NO it’s not.  The page also directs you to a WorkSafe page about insurance!

WorkSafe Tasmania

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If you don’t prevent, you perpetuate

Systematic approach to psychological health and safety

One of the most important occupational health and safety (OHS) guidances released the last couple of years is the Safe Work Australia (SWA) guide “Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties“, but its significance is not being universally embraced.

Recently Australian law firm, Minter Ellison, released an

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People Risk = OHS for Human Resource professionals

The Governance Institute of Australia hosted a discussion about “Corporate culture and people risk — lessons from the Royal Commission”.  The seminar was worthwhile attending but there was also moments of discomfort.

The reality was that The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was not discussed in any great detail as it was treated as a ghost hovering behind the discussion but not a scary ghost, almost a ghost of embarrassment.

And it seems that “People Risk” is what the Human Resource (HR) profession calls occupational health and safety (OHS) when it can’t bring itself to say occupational health and safety.

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Stop whingeing and manage OHS properly

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) regularly updates the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations administered by its Corporate Governance Council.  The Council has recently closed submissions on its consultation on the Fourth Edition.  The submissions are worth looking at to see how occupational health and safety (OHS) fairs, and it is also worth looking for mentions of the “social licence to operate”.

The 3rd edition of the principles provides examples of what it means to be a “good corporate citizen” (page 19),

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