OHS is politics

Jordan Barab is a major voice in occupational health and safety (OHS) in the United States. This year he chalks up 20 years of his Confined Spaces blog. His latest year-in-review article includes a political perspective that Australian OHS professionals and institutions should consider.

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Calculate the cost of your overwork

Long working hours have been identified as a major contributor to poor workplace mental health. International benchmarks have been identified as tipping points for mental health. A local Australian initiative to highlight the risks associated with overwork is Go Home on Time Day, which The Australia Institute supports.

Fewer companies than when the day started in 2009 seem to be supporting and promoting the day in their wellbeing calendars. Perhaps because the day identifies the shameful fact that employers will not stop workers from working long hours “if the workers choose to” even though the evidence is that the practice is harmful.

Its working hours calculator is a major part of the Go Home on Time Day initiative.

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Rory O’Neill provides a spark

Rory O’Neill was a member of a panel at the 23rd World Congress for Safety and Health at Work, ostensibly, about Safety in Design in high-risk industries. It is fair to say he was expansive, engaging and provocative. It was a rare opportunity to hear him speak in person. Below are some examples of his challenging and, in some ways, traditional approach to occupational health and safety (OHS).

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Making Noise – Asian migrant workers

Racism is a word increasingly thrown around these days, the most current incarnation being in the controversy surrounding whether or not to allow Australia’s indigenous peoples a formalised Voice to Parliament.

Unfortunately, Australia has no patent on this illogical and offensive tendency. In Asia, it is often aimed at other Asian races of what is perceived as lower social class. 

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RUOK? needs a refresh

RUOK? Day is held in September each year in Australia. The workplace suicide awareness campaign has been very successful, but over time, I have observed a decline in effectiveness, certainly at the local communication level. It may be a victim of its own success as almost all awareness campaigns struggle to maintain their original freshness. Perhaps it is time for a change. Perhaps that change is being forced upon us.

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Working in Heat, and Gwarda

New research into working in excessive heat concisely summarises the socioeconomic impacts but misses the obvious strategies to prevent or diminish these impacts. It also includes impacts on productivity, but heat and climate change are not in the current Australian business group discussions about productivity. Those groups could benefit from understanding Gwarda.

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There’s more to the Right to Disconnect than just ignoring the boss

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference has endorsed the concept of the right-to-disconnect, according to an article in The Australian. Sadly, the reporting on the change has a dismissive tone on what is an attempt to address the increasing costs of mental health at work. Readily accessible and recent survey data on the right-to-disconnect could have been used for a fuller analysis.

Journalist Ewin Hannan wrote:

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