This week’s SAFETYconnect conference hosted by the NSCA Foundation in Sydney had a very good strike rate of interesting speakers on its first day. Only one speaker missed the safety mark – it was as if they had been handed a marketing presentation instead of safety and, regardless of the safety audience, give it anyway.
This conference was notable for the way that the ‘safety differently’/Safety II movement has moved into mainstream safety management. The most obvious example of this was a presentation by QantasLink.
James Wood was injured during work on an Australian mine site in 1985 resulting in spinal cord damage and other complications. For a long time, James has been telling his story to Australian workers for them to understand the risks they face, primarily, at work. I caught up with James on a very cold morning at a lovely café in Victoria’s Yarra Valley earlier this month.
SAWB: James, I heard you talk about your workplace injury and the disruption and the consequences of that at least 15 years ago at a breakfast meeting. It was extremely effective, and a powerful message. Fifteen years later you’re still doing that. Why tell your story? Why would anybody want to hear it?
JW: Well, there’s probably a couple of answers, Kevin. I share my story and my experiences because I know how my workplace accident changed my life and I know how it affected a lot of the people around me at the time. My family, workmates, friends. I believe that by sharing my story, I can give people a little bit of information about what it’s like to get hurt at work or even away from work.
I honestly hope that by telling people how I got hurt and how it changed my life, it can give people the reason to maybe use some of the training that we’re all given. To use the systems and the procedures that most workplaces have and try and stop somebody else from getting hurt.
The most recent stuff-up by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has strengthened calls for a Royal Commission into Australia’s finance and banking sector. This is of interest to workplace safety professionals because it contains the liveliest current discussion about corporate cultures – how flawed ones are supposedly behind the errors and how proactive ones are supposed to be the solution.
Occurring at the same time is a growing social movement that is recalibrating occupational health and safety (OHS) to see workers as humans of value rather than units of labour.
Paralleling all of this is increased attention on the sociology and psychology of work, perhaps linked to a decline in the neoliberalism of the past forty years. As Australia enters the time of OHS conferences and Work Safe Month in October, it may be worth considering a couple of fundamental questions, such as absolute safety, AFAIRP, and invisible hazards.
The community and media responses to the Australian Human Rights Commission report into sexual assault and harassment in Australian universities continue but until the Australian Government responds, it is unclear how the risks will be reduced, particularly as many members of the current Federal Government have been openly hostile to the AHRC and its previous Commissioner, Gillian Triggs. After having rubbished the Commissioner and the institution, how will the government respond?
Following on from the very popular SafetyAtWorkBlog article about the report yesterday, it is worth looking at the AHRC recommendations in the occupational health and safety (OHS) context.
It should be noted that OHS places the principal responsibility on the employer, in this instance, the universities and the Vice-Chancellors. Some have already started to call on the government to play a role, with implications that it should be leading the change: Continue reading “University sexual assault – an OHS perspective”
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