Australia’s Office of the Chief Economist released a report on December 6 2017 whose relevance to occupational health and safety (OHS) is not immediately apparent but contributes to understanding the context of OHS in modern business processes.
It’s Jacaranda season in New South Wales which increases the pleasure of visiting the State for a safety-related conference. It has been over a decade since SafetyAtWorkBlog attended a conference of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Association of Australia (HFESA), little has changed in the organisation of the conference as HFESA had this conference pretty well organised even a decade ago.
The conference is a comparatively small affair with around 100 delegates, a minimal trade exhibition and only three streams. But that is all that is needed. The focus is on two elements:
- good quality presentations, largely from HFESA members; and
It is perhaps the latter where HFESA has it over some of the other safety-related associations.
“What gets measured, gets done” is a common phrase in corporate-speak but needs to be treated with caution in terms of occupational health and safety (OHS).
In The Australian newspaper of October 5 2017 (paywalled) an article about remuneration and innovation includes a brief but telling discussion of the perception of OHS.
Sylvia Falzon is a director of the companies Perpetual and Regis Healthcare. The article states that Falzon is a
“great believer that ‘what gets measured gets done”.
However, this belief has important limitations.
James Wood was injured during work on an Australian mine site in 1985 resulting in spinal cord damage and other complications. For a long time, James has been telling his story to Australian workers for them to understand the risks they face, primarily, at work. I caught up with James on a very cold morning at a lovely café in Victoria’s Yarra Valley earlier this month.
SAWB: James, I heard you talk about your workplace injury and the disruption and the consequences of that at least 15 years ago at a breakfast meeting. It was extremely effective, and a powerful message. Fifteen years later you’re still doing that. Why tell your story? Why would anybody want to hear it?
JW: Well, there’s probably a couple of answers, Kevin. I share my story and my experiences because I know how my workplace accident changed my life and I know how it affected a lot of the people around me at the time. My family, workmates, friends. I believe that by sharing my story, I can give people a little bit of information about what it’s like to get hurt at work or even away from work.
I honestly hope that by telling people how I got hurt and how it changed my life, it can give people the reason to maybe use some of the training that we’re all given. To use the systems and the procedures that most workplaces have and try and stop somebody else from getting hurt.