Different OHS messages to different audiences

Last week, WorkSafe Victoria held its annual Business Leaders’ Breakfast. The keynote speaker was Karen Maher, who spoke about the need for an effective and respectful workplace culture that would foster a healthy psychosocial environment. Her presentation would have been familiar to many of the occupational health and safety (OHS) and WorkSafe personnel in the audience, but it may have been revolutionary for any business leaders. Maher outlined the need for change but not necessarily how to change or the barriers to change.

The event did provide a useful Q&A session and afforded the new WorkSafe Victoria CEO, Joe Calafiore, his second public speaking event in a week.

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New international standard for evaluating OHS performance

On February 13th, 2024, the International Technical Committee (ISO TC 283) responsible for the design and development of ISO 45004:2024 OH&S Performance Evaluation reported that the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) ballot yielded 54/55 supporting votes, equating to a very strong 98% international ballot approval.

ISO 45004:2024 is intended to help organisations to effectively monitor, measure, analyse and evaluate occupational health and safety (OHS) performance. OHS performance evaluation includes the organisation’s processes to assess the adequacy of activities expected to achieve intended results. OHS performance is normally evaluated using a combination of processes and sources of information such as incident investigations, inspections, audits, qualitative and quantitative indicators, culture surveys and interviews.

The new standard was published last week.

{The is a guest post by David Solomon; details are below. Some grammar changes have been applied, and hyperlinks added by SafetyAtWorkBlog]

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Safety Systems of Work receives some clarity

Employers and their representatives have long claimed to not understand their occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations and include OHS in their spurious claims of government “red tape”. These claims have become a business mantra but it is BS. OHS is not separate from running a business, making business decisions, or even designing a business at the earliest concept stages. OHS exists in these processes even if the business owners fail to accept it.

But Australia’s OHS regime does have its blind spots. A major one is the lack of explanation for a “safe system of work“. But SafeWork’s new Designing Work to Manage Psychosocial Risks guidance offers some clarity. Maybe what has been largely ignored in the past has a renewed (psychosocial) relevance.

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Work (re)design needs government subsidies to succeed

Last week, SafeWork New South Wales progressed the management of psychosocial hazards at work with the release of its Designing Work to Manage Psychosocial Risks guidance. This document has been a long time coming and offers significant advice on how work and people management needs to change in order to prevent psychosocial hazards. However, its implementation is likely to generate considerable opposition and confusion, or even organisational shock, if it is not able to convince employers of increased profitability and productivity from making the change.

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A refresh of the Code of Practice for Working Hours could be of great benefit

Many workers have a working week that includes more hours than they were contracted for. This is often described as “unpaid overtime”, which is a misnomer as “overtime” traditionally involves being paid a higher rate of income to compensate for making one available beyond or “over” regular business hours. Unpaid overtime can also be considered employer- and employee-endorsed exploitation and lead to industrial disputes, as junior doctors recently showed in Victoria.

Since 2006, the West Australian government has had a Code of Practice for Working Hours, with supporting documents such as risk management guidelines. This level of prescription could be applicable in supporting and clarifying newly-emphasised occupational health and safety (OHS) duties for psychosocially healthy work.

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Should photos of unsafe activities be published unedited?

In early December 2023, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) published this (unblurred) photo of a woman, a man, and a child riding a single motorbike in the Australian countryside. Riding in such a way is unsafe, some may say reckless, and contrary to the operational guidelines of motorcycle manufacturers. Should the AFR have used this photo? Should there be a ban on such photos?

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Interview with ILO’s Manal Azzi

Last week, I was able to interview several speakers, sponsors and delegates at the 23rd World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, sometimes on behalf of the Congress and at other times privately. Some of these interviews were edited from forty-five minutes of content to ten. The interview with the Team Lead on Occupational Safety and Health at the International Labour Organization, Manal Azzi, available online, was once such. This SafetyAtWorkBlog article is the full, slightly edited, transcript of that interview.

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