NSW inquiry into workers’ compensation illustrates short-termism

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UnionsNSW are campaigning strongly on OHS issues during an inquiry by Joint Select Committee on the NSW Workers’ Compensation Scheme into workers compensation.  They make the point that a focus on the reduction of injury is the most effective way of rendering a workers compensation scheme “profitable”.  By neglecting worker safety, injuries increase and there is a higher demand on compensation and rehabilitation resources.

A major concern in the campaign is that the government is focussing on reducing costs and, in workers’ compensation schemes, that often results in fewer resources for injured workers and their families.

Tim Ayres, Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“If NSW employers want to save money on workers’ comp premiums, they should focus on reducing their premiums by providing safer workplaces where workers don’t get injured and killed.”

But a draft submission, seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog, by the International Governance and Performance Research Centre (IGPRC) of Macquarie University provides some balance into the rhetoric. Continue reading “NSW inquiry into workers’ compensation illustrates short-termism”

Where are the safety profession thinkers?

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The most successful safety management improvements come from a multi-disciplinary approach. The biggest leaps in safety management have come not from the established safety academic profession of engineering but from those outside that discipline – sociologists (Andrew Hopkins) , psychologists (James Reason)  and, increasingly, philosophers.

Recently philosopher Alain de Botton  was interviewed in the Australian magazine, Dumbo Feather (issue 30, 2012).  When asked whether the discussion of philosophical ideas exists in popular space, he said:

“I care about a mass audience because I somehow believe that the mass is right.  I believe in a democratic sense that if you’re not reaching a broad number of people with your ideas, that there’s probably something wrong with your ideas.  It might not be everything that’ wrong with them, but something presentational or structural.  We live in very open societies, where if your message is a good one it should be able to get out there.

So when the typical academic says, ‘Well, you know, I don’t want to be open to popular scrutiny’ or, ‘I’m not interested in discussing my material with just anyone’, my response is ‘Well, why?’  What is it about your field of study that makes it inevitably beyond a broader public acceptance or recognition or discussion?”

de Botton is not talking about safety, per se, but he is talking about the communication of ideas and communication, or consultation, is a crucial element of successful safety management.

Why is it that the most useful and interesting perspectives on workplace safety are coming from non-traditional safety disciplines?

Kevin Jones

Professor Niki Ellis speaks about OHS, CSR and resilience

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Next week the National Comcare Conference is held in Melbourne Australia.  One of the keynote speakers at the conference is Professor Niki Ellis, a prominent Australian OHS researchers and consultant  who is also heading up the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR).

On a sunny September 5 2011 I was able to spend half and hour with Niki at a noisy cafe outside Victoria’s State Library talking about:

  • The profile of OHS is Australia as a profession
  • The importance of a practical application for OHS research (what Niki refers to as “interventionist research”)
  • The need for innovation in tertiary institutions
  • The legacy of Dame Carol Black’s UK report “Working for a Healthier Tomorrow
  • The challenge for OHS professionals to cope  with emerging psychosocial hazards
  • The role and importance of Corporate Social Responsibility to workplace health and safety
  • The deficiencies of applying resilience to workplace mental health issues

Kevin Jones

Safety Institute expulsion raises questions about fairness

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John Lambert has been expelled from the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA).  This is a fact that the SafetyAtWorkBlog would not usually report on due to privacy concerns but Lambert has already brought his expulsion to the attention of his occupational health and safety colleagues through various online discussion forums and has agreed to answer the questions below.

A quick background to his expulsion is that there was considerable debate in some sections of the Safety Institute of Australia about disciplinary action being taken against a Victorian Committee Member, Phillip Kamay.  Many members, including John Lambert, saw an injustice and expressed opinions and advice, often, in email and on SIA discussion forums.  It appears that Lambert overstepped the boundaries of criticism in some correspondence and complaints were lodged with the SIA

The National President of the Safety Institute of Australia, Sue Pilkington, has repeatedly promised answers to five questions about John Lambert’s expulsion for almost two weeks.  No answers have yet been received but will be incorporated into this blog posts, if, and when, received.

Lambert answered some questions from us pertaining to his expulsion.  Below is a slightly edited version of his response: Continue reading “Safety Institute expulsion raises questions about fairness”

Directors Sentiment Index mentions OHS but……

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The survey results of the inaugural Directors Sentiment Index have been around for several months but recent breakfasts discussing the findings have generated renewed media interest.

The survey provides a useful profile of how directors see their role and lists forecasts of trends but in none of the recent media reports does workplace health and safety receive attention although it is mentioned in the survey results.

The survey, conducted for the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), lists occupational health and safety (OHS) as one of the components of what is described as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues (page 64).

(Curiously “Work Health & Safety” continues to be abbreviated to OH&S showing the persistence of OHS).

The chart shows that 54% of respondents believe that the importance of OHS issues will increase a little.  This can be interpreted in many ways – directors do not know what they are talking about,  the OHS profession has a bloated sense of its own importance, a survey over time may provide a better reflection of perception or that the work of Safe Work Australia on OHS and corporate governance is not gaining traction on the agendas at board meetings. Continue reading “Directors Sentiment Index mentions OHS but……”