I once had to stop a potential fight on a construction site between a works supervisor and a safety professional. The verbal abuse and niggling occurred for several minutes before the men’s chest were inflated like roosters and it was at this point I stepped in to diffuse the situation by asking some questions as…
Recently the Victorian Women Lawyers conducted a seminar into the outcomes of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence. SafetyAtWorkBlog attended even though the topic seems, initially, to have a tenuous link to occupational health and safety (OHS). Family violence is relevant to OHS through its influence on workplace mental ill-health, productivity and the need for cultural…
October is National Safety Month in Australia and episode 5 of the Cabbage Salad and Safety podcast discusses a range of topics to mirror the diversity of National Safety Month.
Siobhan Flores-Walsh and myself talk about:
- Gender in Safety
- Mental Health
- Simple Safety vs Complex Safety
- Marketing and social media
The Gender in Safety conversation is one that I intend to expand upon in the coming weeks and is useful to notion relation to the increasing number of “women in safety”- type events.
On October 7 2016, Victoria’s trade union movement held a Young Worker Conference. The major public statement from that conference was the launch of a survey report called Young Workers Health and Safety Snapshot. The report has received some mainstream press which is not unusual for this type of trade union member survey. Almost twenty…
The Safety Institute’s National Convention was given a youthful injection this morning by the presentation of Dr Jason Fox (pictured below, with beard). He challenged our thinking and our occupational health and safety (OHS) future, even though the sound quality was not as good as it could be leading to some of his words being missed.
One of the most visible changes in this conference is the presence of women on the speaker panels. Each of these panels has illustrated and reinforced the need to change from the usually safety conference speakers, who are experts and important to listen to, away from the male-based (but changing) stereotype of the safety profession to which many speakers have referred. The SIA is trying to provide gender diversity but it, like so many other organisations, is not there yet in its transition from old to new and from past to future.
Panel member Jen Jackson (pictured) was not included as a speaker but she showed enough thoughtful contribution and personality that a presentation on safety communication would have been useful. She complemented the speakers and panel well and her response to her exposure to the safety profession would have generated a fresh external perspective.
I have written before that I think some speakers, experts and academics should be read rather than heard. Dr Fox is a vibrant speaker but twenty minutes, as Drew Rae has pointed out in a comments sections of this blog, does not allow nuance, discussion or debate. I have read some of Dr Fox’s GameChanger book and that media format allows for reflection and thought but try to see Dr Fox present on change first. He is a terrific multimedia knowledge package..
I can’t blog about the content of the second conference session as I need to listen back to it so as not to simply reiterate the talking points and audio grabs. But this session was lively and benefited from the mix of expertise from Andrew Hopkins, Jason Fox, Peter Baines, Siobhan Flores-Walsh and Jen Jackson.
The second session of the SIA National Convention is flatter than the the first, not because it is not interesting but because it is providing us with the social context for occupational health and safety (OHS) rather than challenging the OHS profession.
Bernard Salt is a very high profile demographer whose job is almost entirely about providing social context to whatever we do. He mentioned OHS specifically only four times and then primarily to do with driving trucks but the age data Salt presented shows the need for improvement in the health and wellbeing of the workforce so that quality of life can extend in line with the extended period of our lives.
Peter Gahan (pictured right, speaking)of the Centre of Workplace Leadership is a regular speaker at the Safety Institute of Australia’s conferences. His outline reflects the theme of this conference by disrupting our sense of security and career.
The challenge comes from how we respond to this unease. If we curl up on the couch to binge watch a show, the career is over. We need to look for the opportunities that the disruption offers but this may require us to reassess, if not throw out, the foundations of our profession or the dreams on which we chose our career.
Richard Coleman is well known in the Australian OHS profession through his prominent safety career. His attraction as a conference speaker was on display because he was able to adjust his presentation to accommodate the examples and context that previous speakers addressed. Coleman focused on the digital disruption, particularly as it affects blue collar occupations. He believes that some of these jobs will go within the next five years.
Coleman’s focus on digital disruption provided a great summary of the OHS application of augmented reality and wearable technology. The latter has the best opportunity for safety improvement, particularly in the area of manual handling. Sensor technology can provide better levels of information and in real time that allows immediate interventions at times of great risk.
What these speakers and the panel are all about is to think creatively and think big. Fantasise about your job and the tasks you do now and whether they will exist in ten years and how you can change them now to prepare for the future. If your job leads to a dead-end, change the job. It seems easier to do this now, than ever before
The 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”
I have a lot of books about workplace safety. Many of them are referenced frequently, several have changed my thoughts. However if I was asked which book has had the most impact on my values and understanding of occupational health and safety (OHS), my response would be of a book I read before I even knew OHS existed. That book is The Story of Ferdinand, and this is why. Continue reading “The most influential book about modern OHS”
Occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals are being encouraged to think differently about safety and to focus on the positives instead of the failures, the leads instead of the lags. This needs to be supported by how we describe workplace incidents and in this context the profession can learn from one aspect of the debate on family violence in which Australia is currently engaged.
One example is available in this article from Women’s Agenda. In it Editor Jane Gilmore writes about how the death of a women, murdered by a man, was described poorly by a newspaper. The headline removes the perpetrator from the action. Continue reading “Beware the power of words”
The 19thTriennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2015) is currently running in Melbourne Australia with 900 delegates, of which 600 are from outside Australia. It offers a fascinating (online) library of ergonomic and occupational health and safety (OHS) research. Below is a sample of the research on offer picked, largely, at random.
It seems unnecessary to state that ergonomics is an essential part of the knowledge base of safety and production but ergonomics still seems to be a “dark art” to many. This is acknowledged by many in the sector and is summarised well by Ruurd N. Pikaar