Over the Christmas break I was cleaning out some files and found some old SafetyAtWork podcast files that used to be on iTunes around a decade ago. The information and perspectives remain important and to preserve the files I have uploaded them to SoundCloud.
One is an interview with Professor Michael Quinlan shortly after the Beaconsfield mine inquiry. The other is a presentation to the Central Safety Group by freelance journalist Gideon Haigh about the corporate approach to asbestos and compensation off the back of the publication of his Asbestos House book.
More will be posted over the next few weeks.
The Herald-Sun newspaper has released the final report into the mental health and suicide rate of Victorian metropolitan firefighters.
The report, authored by Dr Peter Cotton, found that the issues uncovered in the review of firefighters in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) are not dissimilar from the findings of other inquiries into emergency service organisations like the police or the ambulance service. More…
More details are appearing of the findings of an independent inquiry into mental health and suicides in the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), a report whose release has been stalled by the United Firefighters’ Union (UFU).
According to the inquiry’s chair, in an article in the ABC news website, Dr Peter Cotton,
“…the MFB has a mono-culture with few women or members from diverse backgrounds, making it difficult to assess the level of bullying and harassment.”
“… the MFB does not screen for alcohol or drug use, and has a lack of policies and procedures to address drug and alcohol issues.”
“Management’s handling of complaints were found to be ad hoc and inconsistent with a “lack of will to follow up” and “give them a wide berth” thought pattern.”
“the mental health of firefighters was comparable with Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria,…”
The latter point is useful to remember as a similar report into the Victoria Police was released earlier this year. The most recent inquiry into Ambulance Victoria was undertaken by the Victorian Auditor-General in 2016. More…
Australia’s emergency services have had several reviews into accusations of workplace bullying, harassment, mental health or suicides. Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) is the latest to undergo this type of review but the United Firefighters Union (UFU) is not happy about the release of the final report, which was due out today. If the final report is consistent, a dysfunctional safety culture will be found.
According to a report in the ABC news website, the review was
“…headed by clinical psychologist Dr Peter Cotton, who wrote a similar report for Victoria Police.” [link added]
SafetyAtWorkBlog readers may recall that an earlier article on psychologically healthy workplaces included this mention of Dr Cotton
“[Dr Chris] Stevens is not blind to the shortcomings of some of the trends in the area of psychologically healthy workplaces. He agreed that the modern workplaces and workers are subject to over-diagnosis of mental health issues and paraphrased some of the work of Dr Peter Cotton who estimated around 30% of workers compensation claims for psychological injury relate to low morale and not psychiatric diagnosis.”
Sydney, Australia – October 19, 2016: Construction workers set up scaffolding in a construction site.
In a small article on the ABC news site, Professor Peng Bi of the University of Adelaide said occupational health and safety laws needed a review to accommodate the changing climate and
“I reckon some regulations should be set up to get employers to pay [fresh] attention to the occupational health and safety of their employees…”
Contrary to Professor Peng Bi’s request, Australian worksites have done much to accommodate the changing climate conditions and to maintain productivity, primarily, in relation to excessive heat exposure by working within the existing occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation. This is not to say more should not be done.
The risks associated with working in heat are well established and recognised by Safe Work Australia and State safety regulators but the advice often focusses on personal changes such as ensuring there is adequate hydration or that jobs should be rotated or that long-sleeved shorts are worn. The amplification of these conditions due to climate change is foreseeable so what should employers, companies and OHS regulators do?