HR and Legal have failed to address sexual harassment. Could OHS do better?

2019 is likely to be the year when the deficiencies and advantages of the occupational health and safety (OHS) approach to the prevention and management of the psychological harm produced by work-related sexual harassment will contrast (clash?) with the approach used by the Human Resources (HR) profession.  For many, many years OHS has failed to implement the control measures that the available research and guidance recommended.  For the same length of time, HR has largely focused on addressing the organisational consequences of accusations of sexual harassment displaying a preference for legal action or to move the accuser out of the organisation.

These approaches persist but there is some hope that recognition of each others’ role and purpose can bridge the ideological demarcations.  Australia’s inquiries into work- and non-work-related harassment have the potential to change the way psychological harm is seen, managed and, maybe, prevented.

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The Shock of the New

The Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) has recently published an article about the significant Human Resources trends for 2019. The trends identified include

  •  “A Change of Government”
  •  “Gig Economy Classification”
  •  “Sexual Harassment”
  •  “Technology Trends”

SafetyAtWorkBlog will be more specific in its occupational health and safety (OHS) “trends” for 2019.

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Step into the light, be proud, be an institutional value adder

All Australian businesses are experiencing disruption.  Some are embracing this as Change, but not enough. As occupational health and safety (OHS) is an unavoidable part of running a business, it is being similarly disrupted. So what can one do?  I chose to read a short book called “On Disruption”. I purchased it because of the title and I had recently shared the media room at the ALP National Conference with the author, Katherine Murphy.  That the book wasn’t about OHS but about the disruption experienced by journalism, newspaper publishing and mainstream media, didn’t bother me as, being a blogger, it should still be of interest either way.

And it was.  But what was surprising were the parallels between journalism and OHS.  I shouldn’t have been surprised as both are, or claim to be, professions.

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A possible licence to be safe

The Victorian Parliament continues to consider the Building Amendment (Registration of Building Trades and Other Matters) Bill 2018. According to one interpretation in the unofficial Hansard:

“This bill’s objectives are to deliver better outcomes for domestic building consumers and building practitioners through further improvements to the practitioner registration and disciplinary system, improve compliance with swimming pool and spa barrier standards and implement some recommendations of the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and the Coroners Court.”

There are many aspects to this Bill, one of which is occupational health and safety (OHS).

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‘Thin’ advice on the management of change

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The managerial tempo for many decades was stable, stable, stable, new management = restructuring, stable, stable….  Occupational health and safety (OHS) was relevant, if allowed, during the restructuring process when injuries, psychological illnesses and workers compensation claims increased.  The frequency of those restructures has increased, often in relation to executive churn, to a point when an organisation seems to be in a state of constant instability, resulting in an increased role for OHS and a major focus on Change Management.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) has released an article Continue reading “‘Thin’ advice on the management of change”