New international standard for evaluating OHS performance

On February 13th, 2024, the International Technical Committee (ISO TC 283) responsible for the design and development of ISO 45004:2024 OH&S Performance Evaluation reported that the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) ballot yielded 54/55 supporting votes, equating to a very strong 98% international ballot approval.

ISO 45004:2024 is intended to help organisations to effectively monitor, measure, analyse and evaluate occupational health and safety (OHS) performance. OHS performance evaluation includes the organisation’s processes to assess the adequacy of activities expected to achieve intended results. OHS performance is normally evaluated using a combination of processes and sources of information such as incident investigations, inspections, audits, qualitative and quantitative indicators, culture surveys and interviews.

The new standard was published last week.

{The is a guest post by David Solomon; details are below. Some grammar changes have been applied, and hyperlinks added by SafetyAtWorkBlog]

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OHS and the big picture

There is an increasing trend to look deeper into the causal factors of workplace incidents and poor worker health in the physical and psychological contexts. This is partly due to “systems thinking” and partly dissatisfaction with failed regulatory and psychological strategies that promised so much but have failed to realise the promise. The trend needs some boosting by the occupational health and safety (OHS) community, which itself needs upskilling.

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Industrial Manslaughter laws are spreading in Australia but are inconsistent [Open Access]

This year the South Australian Parliament will likely pass that State’s Industrial Manslaughter (IM) legislation as the introduction of these laws was an election commitment of the new Labor government. The consultation period on the draft Bill closes on February 10 2023 after being open for just over two months.

New South Wales may follow if the Labor Party wins the March 2023 election

Industrial Manslaughter laws under the broader occupational health and safety (OHS) continue to be contentious as a new research paper by Professor Richard Johnstone shows. However, the introduction of IM laws will forever be a political act at its core.

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Industrial Manslaughter and marketing

Industrial Manslaughter was always going to generate some workplace safety marketing at some point. In this week’s Australian Financial Review (23 September 2022, page 23, paywalled), Inspectivity paid for a full-page advertorial promoting its data collection and analysis products. It mentioned that its products could help to reduce the risk of being prosecuted for Industrial Manslaughter. But what does this say about one’s customers and their attitude to providing safe and healthy workplaces if the avoidance of personal accountability is the ”hook” for the sale?

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A Wellbeing Budget needs a strong cultural change strategy

Jim Chalmers has completed his first week of Australia’s Parliament as Treasurer. On Thursday, he presented a statement of the country’s finances without mentioning his well-being intentions (which some are claiming to be a gimmick). This does not mean that well-being is dead, as the “Wellbeing Budget” is not due until October; Chalmers needs to establish his authority, but it illustrates a common perspective on occupational health and safety (OHS) in the minds of many small business people.

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“There is too little time and the ask is too big to try to change the system”.

There are many similarities between the management of occupational health and safety (OHS) and environment protection. Both seek to prevent and/or mitigate harm, and both have similarly focussed legislation. However, this similarity extends to vulnerabilities in each approach. Neither discipline is solely responsible for the lack of progress in prevention and protection, but both have not realised their potential for change.

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Hypocrisy is the biggest drag on OHS achievement

It is impossible to write about occupational health and safety (OHS) without mentioning hypocrisy – when one’s actions fail to meet the commitments we espouse. An important example was identified by a SafetyAtWorkBlog reader concerning the damning inquiry into Queensland’s public sector culture.

Several years ago, Queensland’s work health and safety authority issued a “Five year strategic plan for work health and safety in Queensland 2019 -2023” infographic that states this Goal:

“Queensland Government is a model client/employer and leader in work health and safety.”

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