Avoid government interference, get in first

In occupational health and safety (OHS), there is evidence and then there is evidence. Regardless of the type of evidence, there is not as much as there should be. Many companies and organisations in Australia are required to publicly release annual reports that identify their financial status. Increasingly non-financial criteria, like OHS performance, is being included in these reports but why isn’t this mandatory and why isn’t it of a consistent type? Late on 2019, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) looked at the issue of OHS reporting, with some assistance from EY.

ACSI’s CEO, Louise Davidson illustrates the problem in her Foreword to the report:

“Almost one third of ASX200 companies provide their investors and other stakeholders no information on health and safety performance. For the companies that do provide some information, the disclosure often provides no insight into how many severe incidents occurred…….”

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What employers need to know: the legal risk of asking staff to work in smokey air

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The following article is reproduced from the excellent academic communication website The Conversation, and is written by Elizabeth Shi, a Senior Lecturer, in RMIT University‘s Graduate School of Business and Law. The article is a very useful contribution to managing the risks of working in smokey environments but is only one contribution to a discussion on occupational health and safety in smokey workplaces that has many, many months to go.

Amid thick bushfire smoke in cities including Canberra and Melbourne, employers need to consider their legal obligations.

Some have directed their workers not to turn up in order to avoid to occupational health and safety risks. Among them is the Commonwealth department of home affairs which last week asked most of its staff to stay away from its Canberra headquarters for 48 hours. Other employers want to know where they stand.

Continue reading “What employers need to know: the legal risk of asking staff to work in smokey air”

Focus on the hoops and not the holes

There is a confluence of investigations into mental health and suicides in Australia at the moment, and most of them overlap with occupational health and safety (OHS).  Each of these increases the understanding of the relationship between work and mental health but no one seems to be connecting the threads into a cohesive case.  This article doesn’t either, by itself, but hopefully the threads of the issues are identified through the themes of various SafetyAtWorkBlog articles.

Recently Tim Quilty of the Liberal Democratic Party addressed the issue of suicide in relation to his contribution to the debate on Industrial Manslaughter (IM) laws in the Victorian Parliament.  His assertions seem a little naïve:

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Don’t be a fish; be a frog.

“Don’t be a fish; be a frog. Swim in the water and jump when you hit ground.”

Kim Young-ha

This aphorism seems apt for the safety culture journey that is occurring at Melbourne Water under the tutelage of Professor Patrick Hudson (pictured right). Melbourne Water is attempting to become a “generative organisation” in line with Hudson’s Safety Culture Maturity model and hosted a public event with Hudson in early November 2019. This provided an opportunity to hear how the model has evolved, particularly in its applications.

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Political Science (finally) comes to OHS

Improvement in occupational health and safety (OHS) standards has always been the intention of OHS laws. Parallel to this is the intention of the OHS, and allied, professions to continuously improve health and safety through the prevention of harm. However, political leadership on OHS has been scarce over the last few years, especially in the national governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. So, it is necessary to look beyond the party politics to other sources of change.

Professor Maureen Dollard speaking at the 2019 ANZSOM Scientific Meeting in Adelaide

At the recent scientific meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine in Adelaide, prominent academic, Professor Maureen Dollard, introduced a much- needed element of political science into her presentation which was titled “Work Organisation and Psychosocial Factors”. SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to ask Dollard, and fellow presenter Professor Sally Ferguson, about this political context.

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