Getting the most out of your conference experience

National Suicide Prevention Conference, Melbourne, July 2019

Single-day occupational health and safety (OHS) symposia, colloquia and seminars seem to be increasing in popularity in Australia. The latest that SafetyAtWorkBlog attended was for the Victorian Institute of Occupational Safety and Health but Tasmania had a couple last year and in the upcoming months is one in Perth, one in Tasmania and another in Sydney. The advantage with this format is that

  • the event is cheap (some are free)
  • it is easier to take one day away from work than two or three days
  • the costs of running them are minimised,
  • local delegates have minimal travel costs, and
  • although the pool of delegates is usually local, it can be more diverse.

These seminars occupy the middle ground between webinar and conferences and, as a regular at these events, SafetyAtWorkBlog has some tips for organisers and delegates that will increase the value of attendance.

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Andi Csontos, OHS futurist

Andi Csontos

The future of work is usually portrayed as a future dominated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and electronic technology, and one with which humans will struggle to cope. As other industrial sectors panic over potential job losses, it may be good news for the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession which feeds on the potential for harm. The future will still contain harm, but probably new types.

Consultation has been critical to OHS and its ability to improve health and safety, but many OHS people do not have to leave the office. There activities revolve around complicated Excel spreadsheets of intricate injury classifications and risk calculations. But OHS existed long before these technological burdens, which some would describe as dead-ends and others as the accumulation of valuable data. However, talking about safety and, more important, listening to others discussing safety is the most important tool an OHS profession has and will have in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This was reinforced recently by EY’s EHS Partner Andi Csontos (pictured above) at a seminar in Ballarat Victoria. Csontos paraphrased a recent EY discussion paper:

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Another generation of safety thinking

Several years ago I attended an occupational health and safety (OHS) conference at which Cristian Sylvestre was speaking. He was in one of the secondary rooms, it was packed with conference delegates and he was talking about neuroscience and its potential to affect safety. In 2017 he self-published a book called “Third Generation Safety: The Missing Piece“.

OHS has a lot of people talking about new approaches to address the plateauing of safety performance. We are pushed to reassess how we got here and how we look at OHS – Safety II, psychology of risk and others, or we need to have OHS fit with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Sylvestre advocates a third generation of safety. This is his take on the previous two generations and how we should progress in the future.

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The measuring of culture creates debate

Today, Siobhan McHale, Head of HR at Dulux posted a comment and video on LinkedIn about measuring cultural change.  She introduces her post with:

“Can culture be measured? In my view it can and should be measured – in the same way as any other business activity that’s important to your success.”

The responses have been speedy and this conversation is likely to continue for sometime as McHale is monitoring the comments, some of which dispute McHale’s position.

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