International Conventions are attractive but largely academic

Last week, Australia’s Parliament released an information paper on a “National Interest Analysis” of International Labour Organization Convention No. 187: Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention adopted in Geneva on 15 June 2006. Does this mean anything to the local occupational health and safety (OHS) profession? Yeah, Nah, Maybe.

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OHS needs to create discomfort

Occupational health and safety (OHS) decision-making by employers is dominated by reasonably practicable safety and health decisions. OHS advice is similarly dominated, leading to an industry that is cowed by the need for job security and tenure. OHS teaching in tertiary institutions is also influenced, if not dominated, by what is seen as (right-wing) “business realities”.

OHS is a small part of the university curriculum. In some universities, OHS education is missing entirely. The OHS discipline is not seen as important or marketable or an important source of revenue. A new book about universities in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s may help us understand the reasons for this.

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Occupational Hygienist – Rene LeBlanc

It has been several months since the 23rd World Congress for Health and Safety was held in Sydney, pictured above. A major benefit of attending occupational health and safety (OHS) conferences is meeting people, old and new. I was honoured to meet Rene LeBlanc, an occupational hygienist from Canada. We had dinner on a very rainy and stormy Sydney night, and Rene agreed to an interview. Below is an edited version of part of that conversation (it was a long dinner). Rene was wide-ranging on his OHS topics.

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The “Right to Disconnect” should have been “Obligation-To-Leave-Workers-Alone”

The Australian Greens announced on February 7, 2024, that the Right-To-Disconnect (RTD) bill would pass Parliament as part of workplace relations reforms. On February 8, 2024, the mainstream media wrote as if the laws had already been passed. However, several issues with these laws indicate they are unlikely to be applied in practice as widely as advocates claim and in the way anticipated.

The closer the RTD laws come to reality, the more useless they appear.

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OHS seems to be no more than a “nice-to-have” to Australian politicians

Several events or non-events at the recent 23rd World Congress on Safety and Health at Work illustrated the political attitude to occupational health and safety in Australia, especially the lack of presence of national figures on official duties.

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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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Rory O’Neill provides a spark

Rory O’Neill was a member of a panel at the 23rd World Congress for Safety and Health at Work, ostensibly, about Safety in Design in high-risk industries. It is fair to say he was expansive, engaging and provocative. It was a rare opportunity to hear him speak in person. Below are some examples of his challenging and, in some ways, traditional approach to occupational health and safety (OHS).

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