New OHS conference tries new approaches and succeeds

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L to R, Tim Allred, Matt Jones, Kevin Jones

Matt Jones has been accused of self-promotion in the establishment of the Health and Safety Professionals New Zealand (HSPNZ) and the group’s first physical conference. Such accusations are made to many people who are “just going to give it a go” and see what happens.  Mostly Jones has succeeded.  Only one speaker made a blatant sales pitch when he misunderstood the audience which were conference delegates, not potential clients. But when Jones succeeded, he succeeded well. Continue reading “New OHS conference tries new approaches and succeeds”

Co-operation may address safety in the work of the future

The investigation of work-related incidents needs to be considered from a broad multidisciplinary perspective.  But occupational health and safety (OHS) itself, applies a much narrower and, some may say, insular perspective.  It hasn’t “played well with others”.  At the recent Comcare conference in Melbourne, Australia, writer Tim Dunlop (pictured right) challenged this type of perception.  He said:

“My point is that it is hard to break out of certain habits of thinking.  Governments pay lip service to the idea that technology will change everything, but then they start talking about jobs and growth as if we were still living in the sixties, where the economy was based on manufacturing, where manufacturing was carried out of factories, employing millions of workers, where the workers were men and where the women stayed at home and looked after the kids.  Those days are gone, and in the future they will be ever more gone.  But the norms of that era I think still informing how we think about the future of work.”

OHS, and some of the safety regulators, may acknowledge the changing future of work

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New President and new approaches to unionism

ACTU Executive with Michele O’Neil second from left

Day One of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ Congress was memorable for a couple of reasons.  The appointment of Michele O’Neil, pictured right, as the President was a notable achievement, one made more memorable as she denied any desire to move onto a political appointment. The other memorable event was a string of shopfloor representatives outlining their innovative approaches to the recruitment of members and the creation of (sub)unions for hospitality workers, hairdressers and indigenous workers in the Northern Territory.

Workplace safety was mentioned a couple of times in passing but occupational health and safety (OHS) seems to becoming more a thing that is, rather than a thing that is named.  If we look for it, we find it.

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Trade unions need to look for change beyond legislation

Danny Glover addressing the ACTU Congress on July 16 2018

The 2018 Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACT) is happening in the middle of a campaign to “Change the Rules”.  These “Rules” are largely concerning with industrial relations, of which Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is a subset, or complementary, element. Legislation constantly needs challenging and review; much legislation, like Australian Standards, misses their expiry dates and persists too long,  becoming increasingly seen as irrelevant.

OHS has the “luxury” of having been reviewed nationally within the last decade.  For some Australian States this change was progressive but for most it was a catch up to contemporary standards and expectations.  OHS laws have not progressed since and a lot of hope is placed on the current Independent Review of Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws to enliven the discussions, yet that report is not due until 2019.

Trade unions have a great deal of faith in legislation to achieve change.  

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