New workplace bullying report raises awareness in UK

imageRecently workplace bullying gained increased attention in the United Kingdom due to media report about a discussion paper released by Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

The report called “Seeking better solutions: tackling bullying and ill-treatment in Britain’s workplaces” is a very good summary of thinking on workplace bullying that acknowledges the Australian experience but seems to indicate that Britain remains in the early stages of tacking the workplace bullying situation after a series of false starts on the issue.

SafetyAtWorkBlog posed some questions about this paper to Dr 

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Time to reassess our approaches to machinery safety

9781472450777.PPC_alternative mobilitesTalking about workplace safety and machine manufacturing is unfashionable, perhaps because Australia’s manufacturing capacity is in strong decline. And occupational health and safety (OHS) seems preoccupied at the moment with psychosocial hazards and wellness.  But one Australian researcher, Elizabeth Bluff, has undertaken an empirical study of safety attitudes, motivations and practice in the manufacturing and OHS regulatory sectors and produced a remarkable book that needs to be read by everyone involved with workplace health and safety.

Bluff writes

“In illuminating the mechanisms underlying manufacturers’ responses for machinery safety the research also makes wider conceptual and theoretical contributions.  It provides insights into knowledge and motivational factors as principal elements shaping firm performance for social and regulatory goals, and advances understanding of how these elements are constituted in the everyday operations of firms and their interactions with external actors.” (page 3)

Continue reading “Time to reassess our approaches to machinery safety”

“Old” documents improve the context of modern OHS initiatives

cover of Professional Development Needs of Generalist OHS PractitionersSeveral long and involved phone conversations resulted from last week’s articles on Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Body of Knowledge (BoK) and its role in accreditation of tertiary OHS courses.  It is worth looking at the origins of some of the issues behind the research on these safety initiatives.

One important document was published by the National OHS Commission (NOHSC, a forerunner of Safe Work Australia) in 1999 – “Professional Development Needs of Generalist OHS Practitioners“* .  This NOHSC document continues to be referenced in the continuing debates listed above and illustrates the need to understand our recent OHS past. Continue reading ““Old” documents improve the context of modern OHS initiatives”

EU provides clues for improving safety management

Cover of ef1551enThe European Union conducts research into occupational health and safety that, although there may be cultural and legislative differences, deserves attention from outside that geographical region.  Recently EuroFound released its annual review for 2014.  There are a couple of research projects that deserve consideration, particularly return-on-investment in construction safety, violence at work, psychosocial issues and precarious work risks. Continue reading “EU provides clues for improving safety management”

Is Australia’s OHS Body of Knowledge a dud?

An online version of Safety Science includes an article by Gunther Paul and Warwick Pearse who discuss “An international benchmark for the Australian OHS Body of Knowledge” (paywalled). Paul and Pearse have been critical of the emphasis given the OHS Body of Knowledge (OHS BoK) in the the accreditation processes of Australian OHS professionals and the accreditation of tertiary OHS courses.  In this article they benchmarked the OHS BoK against three other international bodies of knowledge and ranked it the lowest in quality, structure and content.

[This article can be read as a companion piece to

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Accreditation research paper misses the mark

The discussion of Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) education and accreditation continues in the academic press.  A recent contribution is from Pam Pryor, Registrar of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board (AOHSEAB) entitled “Accredited OHS professional education: A step change for OHS capability” (paywalled).  Pryor continues to make the case for the necessity of accreditation for university OHS courses but evidence seems to remain thin and an arbitrary differentiation between competence and capability is hard to understand outside of academic discourse. Continue reading “Accreditation research paper misses the mark”

OHS ROI pilot research in Queensland

Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) recently revealed some early research into the Return on Investment (ROI) of occupational health and safety (OHS) controls. (Thanks to a reader for pointing it out) According to its website:

“Recent pilot research in several Queensland  organisations found clear evidence of the cost effectiveness of safety interventions, including:

  • an automatic shrink wrapping machine at Rexel’s Tingalpa distribution centre that had an ROI of around $1.82 for every $1 of costs, and a payback of upfront costs of less than three years
  • an ergonomics intervention at BP Wild Bean Cafés with an ROI of $2.74 for every $1 of costs and a payback within the first month
  • a workplace health and wellbeing program at Port of Brisbane that had an ROI of $1.58 for every $1 of costs and a payback of 15 months.”

None of this “pilot research” is publicly available so it is not possible to verify the data. (WHSQ has been contacted for further information for a follow up blog article)  

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Another mental health player joins the discussion

Pages from EY Putting our minds to it - Addressing mental health-2Recently, Ernst Young released a discussion paper about the risks of mental health in the workplace.

Mental health is a very popular topic at the moment and there are thousands of service providers in this sector. During the recent National Mental Health Week,

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Full time at union OHS representatives conference

2015-10-27 HSR Conference brochureThe Health and Safety Representatives’ Conference, organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council as part of Victoria’s WorkSafe Week, was notable for the lack of politics. Previous conferences have often focussed on political campaigns such as Your Rights At Work but this was largely absent from the presentations.  There were some political questions from the floor but that was expected.

The conference had some particular highlights relevant to the broader Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) profession.

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