Singapore’s Prime Minister shows mature approach to OHS

Lee Hsien Loong centre)

It has been noted that the recent World Congress on Safety And Health at Work had “Vision Zero” as one of its three themes.  It was curious that the opening remarks of Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong (pictured right), did not mention Vision Zero at all.  In fact he was quite measured in his speech which placed him in a better position to argue for real safety targets and initiatives.

In contrast to many business leaders, and some of the speakers at the World Congress, the Prime Minister stated that

“workplace accidents and injuries are almost always preventable.”

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People Centred Prevention should not be a new concept

The World Congress on Safety and Health is physically and mentally exhausting.  Physically, simply because of its size.  Mentally because there is so much information.  Some that confirms your occupational health and safety (OHS) approach and others that conflict with what you know. Some information that seems incredibly dated and anachronistic but you look around and this seems new and wonderful to other delegates.

A major theme of the Congress was “People Centred Prevention” (PCP). This is one of the anachronisms. Wasn’t OHS always about keeping people safe?  If this theme had originated in the United Kingdom, it could have been contextualised as redressing the red tape attack on OHS regulation by previous governments – bringing the humanity back to OHS – but it is being proposed in this Congress as a significant change of focus and perspective.

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Zero, health and people – themes of the World Congress on Safety & Health

In front of thousands of delegates and dignitaries, the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health was officially opened yesterday by the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

There are three themes of this conference:

  • Vision Zero – From Vision to Reality
  • Healthy work—Healthy life
  • People-centred prevention
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OHS is PHS (public health and safety) but government needs to catch up

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released a report into the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault in Australia’s university campuses. It has revealed some shocking statistics and brings Australian universities into the global phenomenon of reassessing university obligations for the modern world.

Australia’s occupational health and safety laws and obligations could be used as a structure for preventing assaults and harassment if the government and universities would be brave enough to use them.

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OHS and murder

In 2014, Glen Turner, an environmental officer with the New South Wales government was murdered will inspecting agricultural properties for illegal land clearing.  Turner was shot repeatedly by local farmer Ian Turnbull, and died at the scene in front of his work colleague, Robert Strange.  79-year-old Turnbull was found guilty and jailed but died 12 months into his prison term.  Due to pressure from Turner’s family, the NSW Government has announced a coronial inquest into the death and the circumstances leading up to it.

Several media reports acknowledge that Turner was killed while at work but the occupational health and safety (OHS) context of the shootings and the actions leading up to the incident has not been investigated except where it led to Turnbull’s trial.  Indications are that the coronial inquest will look at this perspective.

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