How will people know you’ve won a safety award?

Modern-day events such as conferences, seminars and awards nights rely on social media strategies to maximise the value of the event and the communication opportunities they afford. This year the WorkSafe Victoria Awards night seems to have applied a thin social media strategy even though it has important stories to tell.

Usually, signs, brochures, information booklets and even tables mention the social media hashtag that the event organisers want the audience to use to promote and record the event. This year WorkSafe Victoria mentioned #WSAwards21 at the night’s start and never again. The hashtag was nowhere to be seen. This may be a major factor in the very low Twitter activity.

As of the time of writing, Twitter had 29 mentions of the #WSAwards21 hashtag, most posted by WorkSafe itself. I tweeted five of them. The audience members or finalists have tweeted only three times.

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WorkSafe Victoria awards were hit and miss

Last week WorkSafe Victoria finally held its awards night for 2021. The finalists were deserved winners, but compared to previous pre-COVID awards nights, this one was sedate and sometimes flat. SafetyAtWorkBlog will be looking at some of the issues raised by the awards ceremony in a series of articles this week.

The crowd was much smaller than in previous years. This could have been due to the event having been postponed, I think twice, but it could also indicate a lower importance for this type of event. Many of the usual attendees seemed missing – occupational health and safety (OHS) and workplace relations law firms, major companies, industry associations and CEOs, and those who are not finalists but appreciate the opportunity to network with significant players in Victorian OHS.

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New Perspectives in OHS

Yesterday the Central Safety Group (CSG) invited me to talk at its monthly lunchtime seminar. The topic was New Perspectives on OHS. These perspectives are likely to be familiar to subscribers of this blog but were intended to be provocative and foster reflection and discussion. Below is a substantially edited version.


Thanks for inviting me to be the first speaker in CSG’s 60th anniversary year. The Central Safety Group has been an important part of my OHS journey since the very start in the early 1990s. It is a remarkable achievement for the Group and, as a Life Member, I am very proud of my association with it.

OHS can become very insular. It can become too focussed on issues within a single industry, a single worksite or a discipline. This insularity can lead to OHS reaching seemingly operational dead ends, such as “this is the way it is” or what is “reasonably practicable are”. We may seek continuous improvement, but our employers and clients often see “reasonably practicable” as the endpoint of activity. It can become their comfort point of compliance.

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COVID vaccination concerns exist in workplaces too

Recently NSCA Foundation conducted an online seminar on mandatory vaccinations. As happens with many online seminars, this one became more of a lecture because there was insufficient time allocated to answer the questions from the audience. The online seminar was in three sections – Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), Industrial Relations (IR) and Privacy. The information from Sparke Helmore lawyers was fine and current, but the questions from the audience provide an interesting insight on some of the main COVID vaccine challenges facing employers.

The seminar started with a useful poll. Below are the questions and results:

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Trying to make the horse drink

The discussions about occupational health and safety (OHS) and its relevance to COVID19 has finally touched the mainstream media with an article in The Age newspaper on May 7, 2020. The article is largely a reiteration of statements made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Minister for Industrial Relations over the last few days but it is the first time that Safe Work Australia (SWA) has joined in.

The Chair of Safe Work Australia, Diane Smith-Gander has stated that additional regulations may have unintended consequences. She is quoted saying:

“We’ve got to let that system operate,… If we try to over-regulate and over-legislate, we will have unintended consequences for sure.”

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OHS and Neil Foster

Neil Foster is a professor at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales with an Arts/Law degree, a degree in Theology and a research Master of Laws degree. He teaches Torts, Workplace Health and Safety Law, and an elective in “Law and Religion”, has published a book on Work Health and Safety Law in Australia and writes an intriguing blog about law and religion. He has accepted the offer of humanising OHS and provided the answers below:

How did you get into Health & Safety?

I was teaching law on a casual basis to “non-law” students in a number of different areas, and my supervisor at the time was asked by the Health Faculty at our University if she could find someone to teach “OHS Law” as part of a degree in OHS they were offering. Keen for more paid work, I agreed! Once I got into this, I saw what an important and interesting area it was, and stuck with it! Some years later the opportunity arose to convert my online teaching notes into a textbook, and I wrote these up just about the time the new WHS Acts were starting into my book “Workplace Health and Safety Law in Australia”.

Continue reading “OHS and Neil Foster”

Some OHS webinars are much better than others

The Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety and Health (BROSH) group conducted an online seminar on March 31, 2002 at which Tracey Browne of the Australian Industry Group (AIGroup) spoke. The content was very good, and the format worked even though many people are still trying to acclimatise to online meetings and the muting of microphones.

Browne provided a general update on managing occupational health and safety (OHS) during the COVID19 pandemic disruption but there were a couple of notable contributions.

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