The Challenges of Future Workplaces – Part 2

This article is part two of an edited version of a keynote presentation I made at the a special WHS Inspectors Forum organised by WorkSafe Tasmania.  The audience comprised inspectors from around Australia and New Zealand.  I was asked to be provocative and challenging so posed some questions to the audience about how occupational health and safety (OHS) is managed, regulated and inspected.

The audio of the presentation is available at

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Share Solutions could be resurrected

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Some readers have asked for more information about the “Share Solutions” program mentioned in a previous article. The initiative started in 1988 but this article is based on the second edition from 1995.

In 1995, pre-internet, the precursor to WorkSafe Victoria, the Health and Safety Organisation Victoria produced a Share Solutions manual (with an unfortunate sex doll-like graphic).  This hard copy folders included single page solutions to common workplace hazards.  These solutions were submitted usually by those workers or Health and Safety Representatives who had developed a solution to a hazard particular to their workplace.  The solutions were shared with the program participants with acknowledgement of the origin. Continue reading “Share Solutions could be resurrected”

Misunderstanding sleep – Part 2

Most non-transport industries do not look for the lack of sleep or fatigue as a factor in their investigations.  Unless a formal investigation is undertaken, fatigue is rarely mentioned and, if it is, it is categorised as a “contributory factor”, which often means it is given such a low priority that nothing will be done about it.  This is partly a legacy of silo thinking that sleep is a non-work personal activity, which it is, but is still one that can affect work and all the relationships and decisions made at work.  But it is also partly due to the enormous disruption that could result if the lack of sleep and fatigue were taken seriously and effective control measures were introduced.

The most effective control for fatigue may be human-friendly shifts and “reasonable” working hours but that might not fit the shift rosters which are required to satisfy clients.  We know that night shift has higher health and physical risks than day shift so logically, get rid of night shift ….

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Misunderstanding sleep – Part 1

On the corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets in Melbourne is a monument to the 8 Hour Day.  This represents a social structure of work that equates to

  • Eight hours of work,
  • Eight hours of recreation,
  • Eight hours of sleep,

The concept started in Australia in the mid-1800s and was intended to reduce exploitation and abuse of workers, many of whom were children.

The intent was to establish, what we would now call, a work/life balance structure with the recognition that work is required to earn a living, sleep is required to rejuvenate the body, preparing it for work, and recreation was social time, time with one’s family, exercise, all sorts of personal and social activities.

Today that structure is an “ideal” rather than a reality. 

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