HR and OHS need to be playmates now more than ever

One of the fascinating elements of this year’s National Comcare conference is the conflict between the Human Resources (HR) approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers compensation, and the OHS approach to psychosocial hazards.  This is not the fault of Comcare as the audience is a peculiar mix of both professions.

The difference was on display when some presenters focused on the post-incident care and, almost entirely, on interventions on the individual.  Other presenters focused on the prevention of physical and psychological injuries – the OHS approach.  The former seemed warmly embraced by the HR professionals.  There were other speakers, or parts of their presentations, where prevention was almost mentioned as an afterthought and even then omitting references to their organisation’s own OHS publications.

There has always been a structural and ideological separation of the professions

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The future of work and OHS – yeah, but…..

ASHPA, the Australian Safety and Health Professional Associations has been quiet for a while but sponsored La Trobe University to undertake some research into the future of work and its impacts on occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals, hygienists, ergonomists and others.  It is an interesting insight into the thoughts and perspectives of safety and health professionals but it also cries out for interpretation and analysis.

The report, not yet available online, is based on the responses of 733 safety and health professionals to an online survey.  The statistical profile of the profession in Australia is useful and the key findings

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Not even lip service to OHS

Australia currently has a lot of official inquiries into workplace issues that affect the occupational health and safety (OHS) of workers.  It is almost impossible to keep up with them and, as a result, some important voices are being missed, but even if they spoke, there is a strong chance they will not be listened to. The Victorian Government has released the final report of the Inquiry into Penalty Rates and Fair Pay.  There are two overt mentions of OHS that don’t seem to go anywhere.

In a submission quoted by the Inquiry, the

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The SIA’s National Conference is on the right path

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Let’s acknowledge the problems with this year’s Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) National Conference upfront before the good stuff is mentioned.

A speaker on the issue of Diversity failed to turn up.  Many of the rooms were setup in such a configuration that some delegates had to stand or, like I did, sit on the floor. Almost all the speakers were asked to speak for over 40 minutes which was a challenge for some and conflicts with studies about attention spans.  Some of the presentations didn’t seem to support the “in practice” theme of the conference. Lastly, what some described as challenging presentations, others found to be vanilla and too general. Some of these problems were beyond the SIA’s control but they were still negative experiences.

Over the next week SafetyAtWorkBlog will be writing about some of the very positive speakers and experiences at the SIA National Conference. Continue reading “The SIA’s National Conference is on the right path”

OHS – The Hidden Profession

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Australian research usually makes use of the industrial and activity categories created by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).  This creates a problem for research into the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession because there is no specific category for the OHS professional.  Perhaps even more importantly, it creates problems for readers of these research reports because we risk imposing an interpretation on the data that is false.  SafetyAtWorkBlog sought clarification from the ABS.

The ABS has a category that seems Continue reading “OHS – The Hidden Profession”