Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has been prominent in recent seminars about sexual harassment, particularly in the entertainment industry. In February 2018, Jenkins spoke at a seminar in Melbourne hosted by Screen Producers Australia and provided strong advice on how businesses can control sexual harassment.
Jenkins began her presentation with an uncomfortable reminder that business has been lax in addressing unlawful workplace behaviour.
A recent SafetyAtWorkBlog article promoted in LinkedIn has generated many responses, mostly from people who have not read the whole original article, about whether sexual harassment is or is not an occupational health and safety (OHS) matter. Below is a summary of some of those comments. Continue reading “Commenters split on who manages sexual harassment”
One online news site in Australia has suggested that sexual harassment is an occupational health and safety (OHS) issue. At first blush, it should be. Sexual harassment can create mental ill-health and can certainly be harmful. But from the early days of discussions about workplace bullying and occupational violence in Australia, sexual harassment has been consciously excluded from OHS.
Is It or Isn’t It?
Some of the best discussion on bullying, harassment and violence was written by Dr Clare Mayhew for the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2000. These included a practical handbook on prevention. (It’s peculiar that some of the most perceptive works on OHS occur outside the OHS profession. Well perhaps not so surprising.) In the handbook, Mayhew points out that harassment has always been an element of workplace bullying but excludes sexual harassment from her discussion:
“The Australian Institution of Criminology believes that prevention, rather than post-incident reaction, is the key to improved outcomes. However, the handbook needs to be adapted specifically to each organisation for best results. The discussions exclude activity that could be described as sexual harassment, which is extensively dealt with elsewhere.” (page 1)
This position is reflective of the OHS literature yet, on reflection, this position may have been wrong for it contributed to a fractured approach to managing workplace psychosocial hazards.
There is much general discussion about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, The Future of Work and other speculative work-related concepts. Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum wrote:
“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.”
For the purposes of this blog “work” is the focus and health and safety the discussion points. Occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals have a unique opportunity to participate in the early stages of this societal disruption. But there is also a risk that OHS could miss out. Continue reading “Me! Me! Me! – OHS needs to grow up for the new world structure”
As part of the research for a recent article on Gender and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to interview Lisa Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of OzChild and former General Manager Health and Safety at WorkSafe Victoria. Gender equality and diversity may no seem to be an OHS issue but it is a vital element of the legislative obligation to consult and the business imperative of making that decision-making process to be a robust and effective as possible. Too many past decisions have come from group-think and “yes men” and diversity of thought through diversity of person is desperately needed in modern safety management.
Below are some of the questions put to her, and her responses Continue reading “Gender diversity and effective decision making”