Planning for an ageing workforce – statistical clues

Free Access

There has been a lot of media attention on the potential impact of an ageing population on all aspects of our society, workplaces included.  In terms of OHS, there may be an increased risk of injury as people are encouraged to work longer and past the compulsory retirement age of around 60 to 65.  But it is worth looking beyond the newspaper reports to get a better understanding 0f the level of risk presented by current population trends.

A report by Professor Diane Gibson for the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia is a terrific way to begin to comprehend the reality of the risk.  The report, Beyond life expectancy,  was released in May 2010 and provides an interpretation of the 2006 Australian Census data.  From a cursory scan of the contents there are important facts that challenge us, particularly if we manage, in any way, people in the workplace. Continue reading “Planning for an ageing workforce – statistical clues”

Eye injury campaign evidence clarified

Free Access

A 19 May 2010 SafetyAtWorkBlog article commented on a new eye safety campaign by the  Optometrists Association Australia.  The eye safety brochure included several statistical references upon which clarification was sought.

Shirley Loh, OAA’s National Professional Services Manager has provided references, and we thank her for her efforts.

A couple of quotes in question were:

“60% of all eye injuries happen in the workplace and about 95% of eye injuries are the result of carelessness and lack of attention.”

“Up to 48% of office workers suffer from computer-related eye fatigue and this rate appears to be increasing.   Excessive computer use can cause eye strain and reduce productivity.” Continue reading “Eye injury campaign evidence clarified”

The politics of the insulation debacle become clearer

Free Access

The debacle of the Australian Government’s insulation job creation scheme faded when the scheme was cancelled suddenly by the Government earlier in 2010.  Attention was always going to return at various stages as investigations into the deaths of young insulation installers begin but Parliament resumed earlier and the Opposition attacked.  The attack has led to the release of correspondence between the Minister responsible for the debacle, Peter Garrett, and the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. (A good example of the role of an effective Opposition in ensuring open government)

The newspapers on 28 May 2010 have focused on the fact that the Prime Minister was aware of the serious occupational health and safety deficiencies of the system months before serious action was taken on the scheme.  However, the correspondence also indicates that Garrett was not inactive on the safety risks in 2009 as many critics allege. Continue reading “The politics of the insulation debacle become clearer”

What the mobile phone/cancer study means for workplaces

Free Access

Over the last few days there has been considerable media attention around the world about the Interphone study into mobile phones and cancer.  The report says that there is an increased risk of some brain cancers for heavy mobile phone users but is this a concern for employers who are obliged to provide a workplace and work activity that is without risk?

The Interphone study is important for many reasons but ultimately it established an anchor point or a reference point on mobile phones and cancer.  The fact that it was largely inconclusive, in this context, is far less important.  Professor Bruce Armstrong summed up his take on the report in a media briefing on 18 May 2010 where he acknowledged continuing uncertainty on the hazard of brain tumours and mobile phones.  Listen to Prof. Armstrong below:

Continue reading “What the mobile phone/cancer study means for workplaces”

Shiftwork saviour? – Caffeine (sort of)

Free Access

Caffeine is a commonly used stimulant in many workplaces around the world.  As such, it is often considered to be the friend of the shift worker and a new analysis of research findings may make that friendship stronger.

According to a new study from Cochrane researchers:

“The results of this systematic review suggest that caffeine may be effective in improving performance in persons engaged in shift work or suffering from jet lag, although it may not be possible to confidently translate such an improvement in performance to a reduced injury risk.” Continue reading “Shiftwork saviour? – Caffeine (sort of)”