Workplace suicide reflection

A letter to the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (subscription only) has provided a slightly different perspective on the Australia suicide statistics released earlier this year, and some of the reporting on the statistics. This is an important perspective when considering suicide interventions.

Allison Milner and Andrew Page note that the Australian Bureau of Statistics suicide data only covered the last 10 years which misses out on a comparison from last century which would show the change from 2013 to 2014 to be “less noteworthy”.

On the issue workplace suicides, Milner and Page advocate the integration of prevention strategies into the workplace but also write that

“Workplace suicide prevention activities show promise, but more rigorous evaluation is needed”.

The authors emphasise that

“Perhaps the more important message from the most recent statistics is that suicide among older age males (⩾60 years) and middle-aged males (45–59 years) continue to increase….”

This is an important consideration should your workforce match these demographics.

Milner and Page urge readers to focus on evidence-based approaches to suicide prevention. Such evidence will assist OHS professionals and business owners in considering a worst-case mental health scenario and adjusting these measures to match the mental health profiles of their workplaces and that of their clients.

The research also serves as a caution against immediate commentary on statistics by showing a measured assessment of data. Much of the statistical and academic research reports are murky and complex because the audience is, primarily, academic peers but time and reflection allows for alternate perspectives and, sometimes, plain English translations.

Kevin Jones

Evidence to support Stand Up, Sit Less, Move More

Office workers need to exercise more.  This is one of the simplest occupational health and safety (OHS) statements that can be made.  Whether one stands while answering a telephone, walks to a photocopier, have a walking meeting or take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, you will be healthier by moving.  Too often this simple OHS message is confused by sellers of apps, products, furniture and training courses that promise success from a single intervention.  The way to avoid this is to look at the research and some recent Australian research into sedentary work is a useful reference in determining workplace safety interventions.

The research “A Cluster RCT to Reduce Office Worker’s Sitting Time: Impact on Activity Outcomes” has been written by a swag of researchers from around Australia and found that a:

“workplace-delivered multicomponent intervention was successful at reducing workplace and overall daily sitting time in both the short- and long- term.”

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Royal Commission into juvenile detention should include OHS

Vision of the mistreatment of children in juvenile detention centres in Australia’s Northern Territory was aired on the ABC Four Corners program on 25 June 2016.  Within 24 hours, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a Royal Commission into juvenile detention.  The treatment shown was not new and had been known by the NT Government and Ministers for several years but the quick decision for a Royal Commission shows the political influence of television and current affairs programs.  Although not yet written, part of the Royal Commission’s terms of reference should be the investigation of the workplace safety context of juvenile detention centre management and the treatment of the young inmates. Continue reading “Royal Commission into juvenile detention should include OHS”

Independent analysis of WorkSafe Victoria

Cover of State of OHS in Victoria 2015Barry Naismith‘s third report into the operations and performance of WorkSafe Victoria was released on July 22, 2014. Naismith produces these reports through a combination of publicly available information in the press, a dive into the resources of the WorkSafe Library (visit before it moves to Geelong) and requests to WorkSafe.  This level of analysis and interpretation is rarely available outside of formal academic research and Naismith provides the all-important social and political context from which much academic occupational health and safety (OHS) research shies.

His latest paper focuses on 2015. Continue reading “Independent analysis of WorkSafe Victoria”

Great safety book let down by the format

Carsten Busch Book Cover002Carsten Busch has self-published “Safety Myth 101” – a book that is one of the most comprehensive discussions on contemporary approaches to occupational health and safety (OHS).  But it is also riddled with the problems of many self-published books – the lack of a strong and tough editor, an unattractive presentation and a mess of footnotes, references and endnotes. The content is very good which makes reading this book a frustrating experience.

I can’t help thinking that the book would have been more effective in a more modern online format that would have allowed for word searches, hyperlinks and  interaction with readers.  In fact, a wiki may have been the best option for Busch’s very valuable content.  But what of this valuable content? Continue reading “Great safety book let down by the format”

“We are the safest” – No, only half right

Governments around the world love to be able to claim their State or Country as the safest in the world, when they can.  Australia has been plagued by such claims between various States but a report released on July 6 2016 shows that such claims are only half the story.

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) released its report about “Work-related injury and illness in Australia, 2004 to 2014“. The report makes this extraordinary finding:

“Across Australia, there are twice as many estimated work-related injuries as there are accepted workers compensation claims. This indicates that many injuries do not progress into the nations workers compensation systems” (page 2)

This statement seems to indicate that political statements made on the basis of workers’ compensation data, the major rationale for most of the “we are the safest” statements, are only half right!

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Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers

Two recent occupational health and safety (OHS) prosecutions in South Australia related to labour hire employees and providers indicate changes in enforcement approach and clues for change as they illustrate how some people and companies have almost no regard for the safety of its employees.

According to a SafeWorkSA media release dated 28 May 2016 (not available online at the time of writing):

“The Industrial Court convicted Queensland based labour hire company, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd, and imposed a penalty of $150 000 plus court costs.

On 22 October 2012, Mr Clinton Benson, a contracted employee on the South Road Superway project, suffered life threatening injuries when his head was crushed between a lifting arm and welding table.

Following investigation by SafeWork SA, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd was charged with offences under the then Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 (SA), for failure to ensure its employee was safe from injury and risk to health whist at work, as far as was reasonably practicable.”

Continue reading “Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers”