Gender, OHS and Checklists

The topicality and importance of many issues highlighted in early 2020 have disappeared. One of them was the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and Libby Lyons, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, has released the speech she intended to give at the, now cancelled, Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the United Nations. Lyons said this about sexual harassment and employers:

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The challenge of preventing harm beyond just “primary prevention”

Fay Calderone’s article in HRDaily on workplace sexual harassment and her responses to some questions from SafetyAtWorkBlog illustrate several points of difference between the usual Legal/HR approach to the management and prevention of workplace risks and the application of the occupational health and safety (OHS) approach. These points of difference are discussed below.

Leadership discussion, policies and training

The prevention of harm is a core principle of occupational health and safety. OHS professionals strive to eliminate hazards at the earliest opportunity and apply the precautionary principle as often as possible. Prevention is aimed at detecting early indications or precursors of hazards, such as those occurring in a Near Miss.

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OHS, sexual harassment, HR and the pursuit of prevention

HRDaily unlocked an article concerning workplace sexual harassment on March 6 2020. The article was written by lawyer Fay Calderone and SafetyAtWorkBlog sought clarification from her on a number of points.

Some of the issues raised in the original article and Calderone’s responses will be discussed in a secondary article.

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The concept of “Coercive Control” should be applied to workplace violence

“Coercive control” is getting attention in New South Wales in relation to domestic violence but there are similarities to workplace behaviours such as sexual harassment and bullying.

The Chief Psychiatrist of Victoria’s “guideline and practice resource: family violence” says

“Family violence is understood as a pattern of repeated and
coercive control, aiming to control another person’s thoughts, feelings and actions.”

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New gendered-violence guide is good on the What but thin on the How

Australia’s trade union movement has been at the forefront of many of the occupational health and safety (OHS) changes, especially workplace stress and bullying. Other than Industrial Manslaughter laws, its most recent campaign targeted to a workplace hazard has revolved around work-related gendered violence. Last week WorkSafe Victoria released a guide to employers on “work-related gendered violence including sexual harassment”. The advice in this guide is good but does not go far enough and is less helpful than it could have been.

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