Shared Values, Social Values and Safety Values

Last week, the Shared Value Project launched its whitepaper called “Creating Shared Value, the Business Imperative to Improve Mental Health in Australia.” It is an interesting document that is part of the trend of reconfiguring capitalism, the decline of neoliberalism, talk of a “social licence”, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and more. Depending on one’s position on capitalism, this makes it part of the wave of change or another failed humanitarian action in the wake of that capitalism.

Several people spoke at the launch, including Professor Allan Fels and the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley.

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Shared Value and Mental Health

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This morning SafetyAtWorkBlog attended the launch of a whitepaper called “Creating shared Value: the business imperative to improve mental health in Australia” produced by the Shared Value Project. Just after the launch I had the opportunity for a quick interview with Shared Value Project CEO Helen Steel. Below is that audio as a short Safety At Work Talks podcast.

A longer article on the white paper and the comments of Victoria’s Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, at the launch will be available next week.

Kevin Jones

Tough but fair – Allan Fels

Allan Fels has served the Australian public for decades as the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a Mental Health Commissioners and recently a Royal Commissioner for the Victorian Government in its inquiry into mental health. His level of activity and the breadth of that influence is extraordinary and should be no surprise that his service has overlapped and influenced workplace health and safety.

That experience has generated a book – Tough Customer – in which Fels reflects on his public service roles but also about how his life and that of his family have influenced his view of the world and his policy priorities. SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to speak with him for a short while earlier this week on the topics of

  • mental health
  • workplace health and safety
  • executive and political perspectives
  • the gig economy
  • ethics and social justice
  • the ACCC.
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Truths? Maybe. But Hard? Nah.

Professions often learn more from those in other professions that they do from their own. As such SafetyAtWorkBlog looks in lots of places for insights that may help the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession.

Recently the Australian Human Resource Institute published a discussion paper called “5 Hard Truths about Workplace Culture”. OHS operates in the same workplace culture so there may be lessons for all.

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Important discussion of moral harm, moral repair and what can be done

Occupational health and safety (OHS) needs to talk more about failure, in a similar way that other business processes are dissected and reported. But the challenge to this, and I think the main reasons failure is not discussed, is that OHS failures result in serious injuries, life-altering conditions and deaths. OHS shares something with the medical profession which “buries its mistakes”. There appears to be something shameful in talking about these failures in public, although the OHS profession is full of chatty anecdotes in private.

One of the ways for OHS to discuss these uncomfortable experiences is to focus on Harm rather than legalities and the chase for compliance.

The first paragraph in Derek Brookes‘ new book, “Beyond Harm“, seems to speak to the OHS profession:

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