Review of West Gate Bridge findings has important lessons for modern infrastructure projects

2020 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge which resulted in, amongst others, the deaths of 35 workers, changed Victoria’s approach to occupational health and safety (OHS), instigated a Royal Commission into the disaster, strengthened trade union influence and established an industrial antagonism to the John Holland group of businesses that continues today.

Panorama of West Gate Bridge in Melbourne at sunset in summer.

Last week,

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Don’t “say anything to anyone..” – Dreamworld inquest

The first week of the two-week inquest into four fatalities at the Dreamworld theme park in Queensland has concluded.  It has substantial occupational health and safety (OHS) management lessons for Australian businesses in a similar way to that of many recent workplace disasters.  Those lessons are basic and the hazards are well-known in the OHS profession. Journalists Jamie Walker and Mark Schliebs, in the Weekend Australian newspaper, provided an excellent review (paywalled) of the lessons from that first week.

SafetyAtWorkBlog has not written about the deaths on the, now discontinued, Thunder Rapids ride because there has been an

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Old books, contemporary advice

Recently I searched the book shops online for some old and rare occupational health and safety (OHS) books.  I often bang on about needing to understand OHS beyond our own professional and academic life times, as OHS, like any other discipline, continues to evolve.

Below are a few of the books I purchased.  I am not going to have time to read them all but there are snippets of interest in each of them.

There are many books that I buy new but when some of them are a couple of hundred dollars, the only option is to look at secondhand shops or head to the local WorkSafe library.

The Safety and Health guide was published in 1993 by The Safety League of New South Wales.  It includes many archaic recommendations for public and personal health but in “Safety and Health in Industry” it says this:

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The Safety Anarchist

Professor Sidney Dekker has a new book out called “The Safety Anarchist – 
Relying on human expertise and innovation, reducing bureaucracy and compliance“.  Last month Sidney spoke exclusively with SafetyAtWorkBlog about the issues of governance, risk assessment, the safety profession, bureaucracy, centralisation and the cost of compliance.  The full conversation is available at the Safety At Work Talks podcasts and below.

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Acts of God, the morality of safety – interview with Sidney Dekker

Free Access

The latest episode of Safety At Work Talks is a return to the sequence of interviews with Professor Sidney Dekker.  In April 2017, Dekker published a book called The End of Heaven which discusses suffering.  This book has a very different tone from his previous books and is intriguing.

The breadth of the discussion was also surprising with concepts and references rarely talked about in relation to occupational health and safety, such as morality, Acts of God, train disasters and the Bible.  If this sounds heavy, it is useful to follow the discussion that leads to this statement from Dekker:

“Safety Culture is the new Human Error”.

This latest episode is available at

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/safetyatworkblog/safety-at-works-talks-episode-03 

Podbean: https://safetyoz.podbean.com/

Kevin Jones