The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster has faded to become another safety leadership failure to be discussed in the OHS and risk management courses but some new research ($ paywall) in Critical Perspectives on Accounting provides a fresh perspective on BP’s safety culture and leadership prior to the major disaster by deconstructing the speeches of the the then-CEO, Tony Hayward.
“I reckon some regulations should be set up to get employers to pay [fresh] attention to the occupational health and safety of their employees…”
Contrary to Professor Peng Bi’s request, Australian worksites have done much to accommodate the changing climate conditions and to maintain productivity, primarily, in relation to excessive heat exposure by working within the existing occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation. This is not to say more should not be done.
The risks associated with working in heat are well established and recognised by Safe Work Australia and State safety regulators but the advice often focusses on personal changes such as ensuring there is adequate hydration or that jobs should be rotated or that long-sleeved shorts are worn. The amplification of these conditions due to climate change is foreseeable so what should employers, companies and OHS regulators do?
It has become fashionable to place occupational health and safety (OHS) in the organisational context of business sustainability. But this is not a new phenomenon in Australia. In 2001 the Ecos Corporation published a discussion paper called “Safety + Value: Entry Points for Operationalizing Sustainability.”* It states
“A dual focus on safety and value creation provides familiar and readily understandable “entry points” and “drivers” for corporations seeking to operationalize sustainability as a framework for doing business in the 21st Century.”
On 26 February 2016, a recent documentary about a portion of the American coal-mining industry, Overburden, was shown with a panel discussion, as part of the Transitions Film Festival in Melbourne. The film is commonly promoted as an environmental film but it also touches on
- Corporate and executive arrogance;
- A complete disregard to worker safety;
- Excessive influence of industry lobbyists in the political process;
- The socio-economic impacts of allowing an industrial monopoly;
- Personal perspectives of risk.
Australia conducted a Royal Commission in to the Esso Gas Plant explosion at Longford. Two people died and most of Victoria was without gas for around two weeks. The Royal Commission lead to a best-selling book by Professor Andrew Hopkins. In 2010, four young men died while installing home insulation as part of a government economic stimulus package. A Royal Commission and various inquests were held but no one wrote a book. Outside of the occupational health and safety (OHS) fraternity, the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program (HIP) is, in many ways, the forgotten inquiry. More…