A good working-from-home book… finally

One of the most appealing little occupational health and safety (OHS) crossed my desk the other day. It is a small, cheap book called “Work Well From Home – Staying Effective in the Age of Remote and Hybrid Working“. Although this updated edition was published in 2023, its appeal is that it is a reissue from 2005 when the advice is largely pre-COVID, pre-broadband service, pre-Zoom, and pre- lots of issues that now seem to complicate working from home.

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Interview with ILO’s Manal Azzi

Last week, I was able to interview several speakers, sponsors and delegates at the 23rd World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, sometimes on behalf of the Congress and at other times privately. Some of these interviews were edited from forty-five minutes of content to ten. The interview with the Team Lead on Occupational Safety and Health at the International Labour Organization, Manal Azzi, available online, was once such. This SafetyAtWorkBlog article is the full, slightly edited, transcript of that interview.

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The OHS of Working from Home remains problematic

When Australia harmonised its occupational health and safety (OHS) laws, the management focus broadened to include work, and not just workplaces.  Some “knowledge” or white-collar work can be done anywhere, and employers have often struggled to understand how to extend their OHS management systems and duties to apply to this revised or expanded system of work. Current OHS guidance on working from home is too “big picture” when employers are addressing localised decisions.

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Can we move on from HSRs, please?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) needs new thinking. One of the most important elements of successful OHS comes from Consultation – a sensible process and one required by law. A major process for OHS consultation in those laws is through the Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs). This legislative (recommended) option was practical but is now almost an anachronism, yet the OHS regulators continue to support the process because it is in the OHS laws. And few will speak against the process because it is being maintained by the trade union movement as one of the last legacies of political influence over workplace health and safety.

This month Queensland government released its report into the review of its Work Health and Safety laws with these two of the three categories of recommendations:

  • “elevation of the role of health and safety representative (HSR) at the workplace
  • clarification of the rights of HSRs and worker representatives to permit them to effectively perform the role and functions conferred upon them and to remove unnecessary disputation,….”

The absurdity of HSRs’ persistence can be illustrated by the rumour that WorkSafe Victoria will encourage sex workers to follow the HSR consultative process through the OHS guidance expected to be released later this year.

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2022 review indicates the amount of OHS work needed in 2023

The end-of-year reviews are starting to emerge from Australia’s law firms. The most recent release is from Maddocks, who have released several short reports on occupational health and safety (OHS) hazards and suggested controls for employers to apply. So this is a year-in-review for 2022, but it is also a forecast of what needs to be changed in 2023.

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Mental health and “workplace disability”

Deutsche Welle‘s regular program “World in Progress” reported on Work in its December 18 2019 edition. It includes discussions of exploitation and trafficking of Nigerian women and South Korean workers being pressured to reluctantly attend work functions. Of particular relevance to the theme of this blog is the last report in the program when workplace psychological health is discussed.

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“Job Quality” progresses OHS thinking

On housing affordability this week, Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, suggested a solution would be to get a “good job”. This occurred a month or so after the publication of a terrific book (that Hockey obviously has yet to read) called “Job Quality in Australia“, edited by Angela Knox and Chris Warhurst for Federation Press. The editors write about the importance of job quality which “…affects attitudes, behaviour and outcomes at the individual, organisational and national level” (page 1) and job quality’s political context:

“While the current Abbott government is primarily concerned with improving Australia’s macro-economic position, such a position is unlikely to be achieved and sustained without a policy agenda focusing on job quality.” (page 2)

Significantly for this blog’s readership, the book has a chapter, written by

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