What is behind guest blog articles?

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Over the last 12 months, SafetyAtWorkBlog has received many unsolicited “guest posts” and almost all of these include links back to commercial sites that have some relationship to the author.  I consider this advertising and reject the posts.  However the writers and, sometime, public relations agencies could be coming cleverer.  The following article is not about workplace safety per se but if safety professionals and others are going to rely on safety information available on social media, Facebook, blogs etc. it is essential they can have faith in the reliability of this information.  Below is a record of a brief search for such reliability in a blog article submission, a search for reliability that all blog owners should consider.

An unsolicited guest post was submitted to SafetyAtWorkBlog by Brooke Kerwin on 6 March 2012.  A sample article was requested with a brief profile of the author.  An article was received entitled “Employees in Automobile Industry Face Changing Safety with Technology“.  The article ( that “I have written specifically for your blog”) contained three links – two to category links within the SafetyAtWorkBlog and one to distracteddrivinghelp.com.  The third link actually related to the subject matter of this article but as there was no profile provided for Brooke Kerwin, I searched for the name through the internet.

On March 8 2012, Brooke Kerwin had a guest post published at Rethinking Patient Safety.  That article had one link to the Rethinking Patient Safety blog, a link to National Patient Safety Week and a third link to distracteddrivinghelp.com. Continue reading “What is behind guest blog articles?”

What the mobile phone/cancer study means for workplaces

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Over the last few days there has been considerable media attention around the world about the Interphone study into mobile phones and cancer.  The report says that there is an increased risk of some brain cancers for heavy mobile phone users but is this a concern for employers who are obliged to provide a workplace and work activity that is without risk?

The Interphone study is important for many reasons but ultimately it established an anchor point or a reference point on mobile phones and cancer.  The fact that it was largely inconclusive, in this context, is far less important.  Professor Bruce Armstrong summed up his take on the report in a media briefing on 18 May 2010 where he acknowledged continuing uncertainty on the hazard of brain tumours and mobile phones.  Listen to Prof. Armstrong below:

Continue reading “What the mobile phone/cancer study means for workplaces”

Survey shows continuing increase in mobile phone use while driving

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The use of a mobile phone while driving can be very dangerous for other vehicles, pedestrians and drivers themselves.  New communications technology has been devised to accommodate the less-new technology of mobile phones but in itself hands-free technologies are masking the risk.

Although this hazard is across the driving community, there is particular relevance for workplace drivers as their status complicates the arguments against talking or texting while driving and provides additional control measures. Continue reading “Survey shows continuing increase in mobile phone use while driving”

Truck safety talkback

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On November 25 2009, NPR’s show Talk of the Nation conducted some discussions with truckers on their safety needs for the first part of the program.  (Audio is available HERE)

The emphasis was on the conduct of drivers in vehicles and trucks but there is some discussion on the VORAD forward radar system applied to one of the tucks.  It was refreshing to hear from a user of this technology which sounds almost like an advanced proximity system that has become common in aircraft.

There is considerable time spent with William Cassidy, the Managing Editor of Journal of Commerce.  Cassidy discusses the pressures to speed and, thankfully, mentions some of the organisational pressures, such as paying by the mile.

One talkback caller says that fatigue from driving a car is different from driving a truck.  Although a truck cabin may be full of more distractions than the cabin of a car, the caller says that the constant distraction equates to greater attentiveness.

Logic does not necessarily apply to driving but if we accept the caller’s position on truck driving being less fatiguing because of increased vigilance, would riding a motorcycle be even safer because of the need for the rider to constantly maintain balance?

Cassidy talks about the importance of perspective in considering these issues, the same reason for everyone’s common sense being slightly different.

He also discusses the “hours of service” rules, driving and rest limits that may be familiar to those of us outside the United States.

Dan Little, owner of the Little & Little Trucking Company, says that education at high school level would be the most successful measure for increasing safety for truck drivers.  The US has a system of driver education in the school system that few other countries have so truck awareness in this context may be useful.

Placing the responsibility on an individual is a popular perspective and one that we can see reinforced on a daily basis but by focusing too much on this perspective reduces the need to innovative design of motor vehicles.  It also necessary to consider any viable alternative freight transport options.

Many listeners will also be familiar with some of the discussion about the reliability of regulatory data collection.  It is an argument that is echoed in many Western countries, particularly on the issue of uniformity of rules, consistency and harmonisation.

Little’s complaints about fatigue assessment by regulators is an argument that each country that is introducing fatigue regulations needs to consider.  The comments also indicate the type of perspective that regulators will need to counter or integrate in their enforcement strategies.

Kevin Jones

Beware Greeks bearing lasers

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For some years now, laser pointers have been misused in a range of activities, from the football field and to cinemas but, most significantly and in an OHS context, towards the pilots of aircraft. (A good summary of the significance of the hazard can be found at Wikipedia)

One example of government response to the hazard can be seen from a media release of the Queensland government in 2008.

The latest incidence of laser pointers and pilots comes from Greece only last week.  According to a report in Kathimerini:

“Two boys aged 13 and 14 were arrested on Saturday [15 August 2009] on Rhodes for forcing a pilot to abandon a landing at the Dodecanese island’s Diagoras Airport because they aimed a laser pointer at the airplane’s cockpit. The pilot of the flight from Alexandroupoli was forced to land on his second attempt.”

More details of the event are, of course, included in the news report.  The most curious piece of information is that police have also arrested the boys’ parents.

Kevin Jones