More on David Michaels’ book – “statistics are people with the tears wiped away”

I found time to read the rest of David Michaels’ latest book “The Triumph of Doubt“. It was loaded with information that is directly relevant to the Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) sector but more about the manipulation of facts and the stealth of lobbyists and influencers than on the hazards themselves. Here’s my take on some of his thoughts.

Two Australian case studies that would not have been out of place in a book like Michaels’, or even an Australian supplement to his book, were quad bikes and workplace mental health. Quad bike safety is the better fit with Michaels’ approach as many of the techniques of Zellner and Dynamic Research Incorporated, and the strategies of international all-terrain vehicle manufacturers, reflect the those strategies in the book.

David Michaels writes about chemicals, primarily, but many of his words hint that similar “doubt scientists” could be already in the psychological health and wellness sector, except these scientists are less about reacting to litigation and legislation than supporting and strengthening an industry in anticipation of increased regulatory scrutiny. “Pre-action”, perhaps?

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Dreamworld presents a story bigger than just an OHS failure

Late yesterday the Queensland Minister for Industrial Relations, Grace Grace, issued a media statement that clarified the work health and safety (WHS) prosecution process that is likely to apply to Ardent Leisure, the owner of Dreamworld. Significantly she clarified the Coroner’s Findings and the misinformation of some media outlets. Ardent Leisure has issued a statement in support of safety improvements.

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OHS and wage theft

Australia is several years into a scandal of underpayment of workers referred to, by some, as wage theft. Occupational health and safety (OHS) would not normally figure in a wages and industrial relations (IR) scandal but the scandal has a legitimate OHS context.

The previous, and ongoing, scandals are not going to be summarised in this article as there are plenty of articles elsewhere in lots of different media but there is a common thread in many of the scandals. Workers are not being paid for some of the time they spend at work, work that is commonly described as unpaid overtime. This unpaid overtime extends the working day, for a variety of reasons, and OHS may not accommodate these additional hours (as they are “not official”) or OHS may be “stretched”, or risks downplayed.

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The Brady Report busts myths and offers a new way

A bombshell occupational health and safety report was tabled in the Queensland Parliament on February 6, 2020. Dr Sean Brady of the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy undertook a forensic assessment of mining fatalities occurring over almost 20 years and has made recommendations that busts some mine safety myths and offers a, potentially very disruptive, way forward.

Brady issued 11 recommendations with many of them hitting the OHS regime of mining companies and safety regulators hard. As the report is over 300 pages, this article is based largely on the Executive Summary.

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On safety, the PM says it’s all about the economy

Source:istockphoto

Australia’s conservative Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, spoke at the National Press Club yesterday and his speech showed that if occupational health and safety (OHS) is to progress over his term of government, economic arguments will be the most persuasive.

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