Recognition for hard work and inspiration

There seems to be a spate of intelligent and knowledgeable people talking about the structural changes required by businesses to reduce and prevent psychological harm. Two Australian voices are Lucinda Brogden and Dr Rebecca Michalak. New Zealand has Dr Hillary Bennett who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards. Bennett’s interview with SafeGuard magazine should be obligatory reading.

Bennett is asked about the Human Resource (HR) profession and nails a critical difference in the HR approach to the occupational health and safety (OHS) one:

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Look deeper and read wider when trying to understand

This Forbes article on the France Telecom suicides, written by Jack Kelly, is doing the rounds on LinkedIn with various lessons identified by various commentators. Sadly Kelly dilutes the significance of the suicides and the jailing of executives by implying that the action in France is a special case, as if the executives were trapped by employment laws into taking the actions that led to the extreme anxiety felt by France Telecom’s workers.

Kelly’s concluding paragraph is unnecessarily equivocal:

“The trial shows that managers waging a campaign of harassment against employees could establish a precedent in France and other countries. It may serve as a strong warning to corporate executives and management that their actions have severe consequences. Pushing employees too hard may result in serious consequences for both the workers and the purveyors of the punishing behaviors.”

Kelly use of “may” weakens the significance of the executive’ actions, the successful prosecution and the jail sentences. Why write that this may happen when the article is about a real case of cause and effect between executive strategy and suicide? Surely “may” should have been “can”.

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“Moral Harassment” = Workplace Bullying. France Telecom lessons

The France Telecom suicide saga has reached a conclusion with a French Court sending several of company’s former executives to jail as a result of “collective moral harassment”. This will have very little impact on the management of occupational health and safety (OHS) in Australia because of the timing and inadequate translation and context.

“Moral Harassment” is a term that is absent from the Australian OHS lexicon. One equivalent term is “mobbing” but this is also an uncommon term in Australia. Australia’s equivalent is “workplace bullying” as mentioned in research by Katherine Lippel of the University of Ottawa in 2011 (pages 1-2).

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Shared Value and Mental Health

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This morning SafetyAtWorkBlog attended the launch of a whitepaper called “Creating shared Value: the business imperative to improve mental health in Australia” produced by the Shared Value Project. Just after the launch I had the opportunity for a quick interview with Shared Value Project CEO Helen Steel. Below is that audio as a short Safety At Work Talks podcast.

A longer article on the white paper and the comments of Victoria’s Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, at the launch will be available next week.

Kevin Jones

COSBOA is outraged over mental health and jail

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On September 24 2019, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) called for the withdrawal of the Boland review into Australia’s work health and safety (WHS) laws.

In a media release COSBOA’s CEO, Peter Strong, states:

“The report solely focusses on workers, giving zero consideration to the mental health of employers and the self-employed….”

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