What is Farm Safety Week really saying about safety?

This week is Farm Safety Week in Australia.  This means that a lot of organisations will be issuing media releases about how to either, improve safety performance (ie. reduce harm) or raise awareness of risks and safety.  What is likely to be missing from the information is practical information.  This is partly because of the unique nature of farmers – isolated, small businesses, politically conservative and working from home.

Safe Work Australia

On the first day of the week Safe Work Australia (SWA) released an

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Quinlan’s time capsule includes useful OHS perspectives

Professor Michael Quinlan has been writing about occupational health and safety (OHS) and industrial relations for several decades. His writing has matured over that time as indicated by his most recent book, Ten Pathways to Death and Disaster.  In 1980, one of his articles looked at OHS through the prisms of Capitalism and Marxism.  It is remarkable how much an article that was written early in Quinlan’s career and at a time when OHS was considered another country remains relevant today.  This perspective contrasts strongly with the current dominant thinking on OHS and as a result sounds fresh and may offer some solutions.

In Quinlan’s 1980 article, “The Profits of Death: Workers’ Health and Capitalism”*, he writes that

“contrary to popular belief there is no objective irrefutable definition of illness”.

This could equally be applied to safety.  But searching for THE definition of things can lead to everlasting colloquia of academic experts without helping those who need to work within and apply safety concepts.

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WorkSafeNZ’s investigation into cut throats identifies important safety lessons

Following a recent article about Enforceable Undertakings, several readers have asked for more information about the occupational health and safety (OHS) breaches that cause WorkSafe New Zealand to commence prosecution actions.

The investigation report provides some useful discussion on safety management failures and Board of Trustee obligations.

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Safety Culture and/or safetyculture

Kevin Jones speaking a SafetyCulture’s Sydney office

SafetyAtWorkBlog and others have been critical of some of the products and practices of Australia safety company SafetyCulture. However Luke Anear, SafetyCulture’s CEO invited me to speak at a briefing for his staff and this seemed a good opportunity to better understand his company.

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Do open plan offices and sit/stand desks create as many problems as they solve?

The mainstream media regularly includes articles and, increasingly, advertorials, about the modern workplace, usually office buildings, that are designed to foster creativity, communication, productivity and improve physical health.  In many of these workplaces, it quickly becomes apparent that there are never enough meeting rooms for confidential discussions, making the coffee shop in the foyer or a nearby building, essential venues for conversations that would, in the past, be conducted in an office.

It also does not take long for a lot of the workers to be at their desks wearing earbuds or headphones in order to negate the noise that the modern workplace allows and creates.  This need for isolation and concentration is contrary to the intentions of the office designers.  It is not simply a reflection of the modern ipod technology but a human desire for privacy, focus, diligence and productivity.  New research  seems to indicate that the situation is not helped by sit/stand desks.

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