Jordan Barab provides important OHS insights

I learnt more about the politics of the United States from Doonesbury than I did from television news and analysis.  I learn more about the politics of occupational health and safety (OHS)  in the United States from Jordan Barab‘s Confined Space newsletter/blog than I do any other media source.  Although the US’s OHS legal structures are different from Australia and other Commonwealth countries, the political ideologies and maneuverings, and fads and statistics are noted by political parties outside the United States.

Recently Barab posted a Year in Review article which is obligatory reading.  His key issues included:

  • A New and Improved Congress (or at least the House)
  • A Headless Agency
  • Inspectors down, enforcement units down, penalties down
  • Return of Black Lung
  • Brett Kavanaugh
  • Regulatory Rollback
  • The Fate of the Labor Movement

Anything sound familiar in your own jurisdiction?

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Addressing the invisible causes of visible harm

The trade union movement was instrumental in showing that workplace bullying was a pervasive problem in Australian workplaces.  Many Codes of Practice and guidances for workplace bullying and occupational violence were written shortly after the action by the Australian Council of Trade Unions almost two decades ago.  But, for some reason, although sexual harassment was mentioned in those early documents, it never received the attention in occupational health and safety (OHS) circles that, in hindsight, it should have.

Perhaps a more sustainable and effective strategy would be to focus on the “harassment” rather than the “sexual”, or in

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ALP’s National Platform and workplace safety

This Sunday SafetyAtWorkBlog will be reporting from the 2018 National Conference of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).  It promises to be extra lively as the country is only a few months away from a General Election and the ALP is tipped by most to win, or rather, the Liberal/National Coalition to lose.  The intention is to watch for discussion of issues that relate to, or affect, the management of worker health and safety.  There will be some, if one accepts that the most effective and sustainable occupational health and safety (OHS) solutions come from both a introduce multidisciplinary approach and that one that looks “at the source” of hazards.

The current draft National platform has a specific chapter on Safety At Work but the document is riddled with safety commitments.  Curiously there is no specific mention of Industrial Manslaughter, although the ALP will

“ensure there are strong deterrents for employers who are responsible for workplace deaths”.

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The Challenges of Future Workplaces – Part 1

This article is part one of an edited version of a keynote presentation I made at the a special WHS Inspectors Forum organised by WorkSafe Tasmania.  The audience comprised inspectors from around Australia and New Zealand.  I was asked to be provocative and challenging so posed some questions to the audience about how occupational health and safety (OHS) is managed, regulated and inspected.

The audio of the presentation is available at SoundCloud and Podbean and below.

 “The purpose of this session is to provide insight into the future challenges for work health and safety regulators due to changes in the nature of work, the workforce, supply chains, and the social and political environments, and encourage inspectors to consider how the way they do their work may need to change to meet these challenges.”

Be Critical

I encourage you all to analyse what you say, what you are told, what you do and how you do it.  Too often we accept information and our situations uncritically and I want you to question everything, including what you read in this article.

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