New International OHS Management Standard is not as revolutionary as claimed

Last week Optus’ Director of Work Health and Safety, Geoff Hoad, spoke enthusiastically of the new international occupational health and safety (OHS) Standard ISO45001 as a “gamechanger”.  It is a gamechanger as much as any management Standard can be, which is, in reality, as much as any company allows it to be. Hoad’s presentation included other comments, some that were not kind to the OHS profession.

Hoad was scathing about the current Australian OHS management Standard

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SafetyConnect conference connects

This week’s SAFETYconnect conference hosted by the NSCA Foundation in Sydney had a very good strike rate of interesting speakers on its first day.  Only one speaker missed the safety mark – it was as if they had been handed a marketing presentation instead of safety and, regardless of the safety audience, give it anyway.

This conference was notable for the way that the ‘safety differently’/Safety II movement has moved into mainstream safety management.  The most obvious example of this was a presentation by QantasLink.

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Reviewing fundamentals is part of cultural change

The most recent stuff-up by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has strengthened calls for a Royal Commission into Australia’s finance and banking sector. This is of interest to workplace safety professionals because it contains the liveliest current discussion about corporate cultures – how flawed ones are supposedly behind the errors and how proactive ones are supposed to be the solution.

Occurring at the same time is a growing social movement that is recalibrating occupational health and safety (OHS) to see workers as humans of value rather than units of labour.

Paralleling all of this is increased attention on the sociology and psychology of work, perhaps linked to a decline in the neoliberalism of the past forty years.  As Australia enters the time of OHS conferences and Work Safe Month in October, it may be worth considering a couple of fundamental questions, such as absolute safety, AFAIRP, and invisible hazards.

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University sexual assault – an OHS perspective

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The community and media responses to the Australian Human Rights Commission report into sexual assault and harassment in Australian universities continue but until the Australian Government responds, it is unclear how the risks will be reduced, particularly as many members of the current Federal Government have been openly hostile to the AHRC and its previous Commissioner, Gillian Triggs.  After having rubbished the Commissioner and the institution, how will the government respond?

Following on from the very popular SafetyAtWorkBlog article about the report yesterday, it is worth looking at the AHRC recommendations in the occupational health and safety (OHS) context.

It should be noted that OHS places the principal responsibility on the employer, in this instance, the universities and the Vice-Chancellors.  Some have already started to call on the government to play a role, with implications that it should be leading the change: Continue reading “University sexual assault – an OHS perspective”

OHS is PHS (public health and safety) but government needs to catch up

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released a report into the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault in Australia’s university campuses. It has revealed some shocking statistics and brings Australian universities into the global phenomenon of reassessing university obligations for the modern world.

Australia’s occupational health and safety laws and obligations could be used as a structure for preventing assaults and harassment if the government and universities would be brave enough to use them.

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