Flogging the banks could help safety

Australia’s Royal Commission into banking and financial services is a few months in and the evidence provided of wrongdoing is so substantial that those who were critical of the need for such an investigation are admitting they were wrong.

SafetyAtWorkBlog is applying the logic that occupational health and safety (OHS) succeeds best when it is part of the organisational culture.  Australia has often held its banking and financial services as “world-class” and many of that industry sector’s leaders have been prominent in speaking about the importance of leadership and corporate morality.

The financial and banking industry’s credibility and authority in Australia is gone and the OHS profession can learn much from this failure, even when the failure is in its early stages of exposure.

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“Just Culture – The Movie” – important case study

I was born outside Liverpool England well over 50 years ago and have lived on the other side of the world ever since.  I love hearing accents from Northern England as it reminds me of my relatives, my roots and, most of all, my Mother.  This meant that I had to watch Sidney Dekker‘s latest 30 minute documentary at least twice so that I paid attention to what was said rather than how.

“Just Culture – The Movie” (accessible through the YouTube share below) tells the story of the transformation from a divisive and unproductive blame culture to a just culture.  It is an important story because it is theory, concept and idea made real, and made real in an industry sector that has a complex organisational culture only partly explained by its funding model.

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Pfeffer cuts through on OHS

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“…if we truly care about human beings and their lives, including how long people live…. we need to first understand and then alter those workplace conditions that sicken and kill people” (page 25 – “Dying For A Paycheck”)

Jeffrey Pfeffer has been doing the rounds of the Safety and Human Resources conferences for some time, talking about “dying for a paycheck”.  This year he published a book of that title, a book that should be obligatory reading for occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals and, more importantly, company executives.

This book is one of the few that I have read from cover-to-cover and wanted to do so in as short a time as possible because I wanted to understand the big interconnected picture of business management and policy setting that Pfeffer discusses.

Pfeffer presents a lot of data packaged in a fresh and fascinating form but regularly complains about the lack of data.  One of the joys in the book is being tantalised by what data he presents but then being frustrated when realising that that is the extent of the data available.   Continue reading “Pfeffer cuts through on OHS”

Business Bullshit – and how this relates to workplace health and safety

This is an edited version of my presentation to delegates at the inaugural NSW Regional Safety Conference & Expo in Newcastle, Australia on March 17, 2018.

The current approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) is that we shouldn’t separate it from business operations. One of the motivations for achieving success in business is to build a strong organisational culture that integrates safety.

Companies often start this task by developing Mission Statements or Pledges.  Quite often these are done by talking to a lot of different people in the organisation.  And I don’t know of any mission statement that hasn’t been already run through Legal and Marketing – they don’t always get run through Safety.  What happens is that these statements can become more florid and more inexact, and more unclear.  Some of them descend into Business Bullshit.

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#MeToo, #TimesUp and #OHS

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Being International Women’s Day, the media is awash with articles about pay rates, gender equality and sexual harassment.  One of those articles is written by Sarah Ralph of Norton Rose Fullbright. Ralph provides a good summary of the current gender issues and recent media attention (may require registration but it’s free).  She makes several recommendations for how to reduce the risk of sexual harassment and unwanted media attention.  Below those recommendations are looked at from the occupational health and safety (OHS) perspective to see how OHS can help reduce the psychological harm. Continue reading “#MeToo, #TimesUp and #OHS”