Contrasting keynotes at ergonomics conference

It’s Jacaranda season in New South Wales which increases the pleasure of visiting the State for a safety-related conference.  It has been over a decade since SafetyAtWorkBlog attended a conference of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Association of Australia (HFESA), little has changed in the organisation of the conference as HFESA had this conference pretty well organised even a decade ago.

The conference is a comparatively small affair with around 100 delegates, a minimal trade exhibition and only three streams.  But that is all that is needed.  The focus is on two elements:

  • good quality presentations, largely from HFESA members; and
  • networking.

It is perhaps the latter where HFESA has it over some of the other safety-related associations.  

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New workplace wellbeing report is what it is

Converge and Reventure launched their latest research report into workplace wellbeing on 23 November 2017.  The report, not yet available online, is based round a survey of just over 1000 Australians comprising over 80% full-time or part-time employees,  The report has been produced as a guide for businesses and may be of some interest to health and safety people but is of limited application.

Definition

Most research reports include a clear statement of the aim of the research or a definition of the concept being investigated. 

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New OHS statistics expand our understanding of work injuries and mental health

On November 9 2017, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released statistical data on work-related injury.  This data included statistics from workers compensation but also statistics about hospitalised injuries that were identified as work-related but funded by sources other than workers’ compensation.  The report also provides a different perspective on mental health.

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The evidence on occupational lung diseases remains inadequate

Workplace injury statistics are always less than reality as they are based on the number of workers’ compensation claims lodged with occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators or insurance agents.  The nature of occupational illnesses is that there may be many years before their presence is physically identified making them more contestable by insurers and less likely to appear in compensation data.  The frustration with this lack of data was voiced on November 13 2017 in an article in the Medical Journal of Australia (not publicly available).

A summary of the research article includes this alarming statistic:

“Occupational exposures are an important determinant of respiratory health. International estimates note that about 15% of adult-onset asthma, 15% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 10–30% of lung cancer may be attributable to hazardous occupational exposures.”

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What do Weinstein, Spacey and others have to do with OHS?

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“Then I went, ‘Oh hang on, I’ve normalised so much of this as part of my industry…. This last three months has really made us all take a long hard look at what we have even let ourselves think is acceptable.” – Sacha Horler

Such a statement is familiar to those working in the field of occupational health and safety (OHS).  This normalisation, or habituation, has underpinned much of the discussion of what builds a safety culture – “the way things are done round here”.  As a result of revelations and accusations pertaining to Gary Glitter, Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville, Robert Hughes, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey, the entertainment industry around the world has been forced to assess the fundamental ethics on which sections of its industry are based.  Continue reading “What do Weinstein, Spacey and others have to do with OHS?”