Jordan Barab provides important OHS insights

I learnt more about the politics of the United States from Doonesbury than I did from television news and analysis.  I learn more about the politics of occupational health and safety (OHS)  in the United States from Jordan Barab‘s Confined Space newsletter/blog than I do any other media source.  Although the US’s OHS legal structures are different from Australia and other Commonwealth countries, the political ideologies and maneuverings, and fads and statistics are noted by political parties outside the United States.

Recently Barab posted a Year in Review article which is obligatory reading.  His key issues included:

  • A New and Improved Congress (or at least the House)
  • A Headless Agency
  • Inspectors down, enforcement units down, penalties down
  • Return of Black Lung
  • Brett Kavanaugh
  • Regulatory Rollback
  • The Fate of the Labor Movement

Anything sound familiar in your own jurisdiction?

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HR and Legal have failed to address sexual harassment. Could OHS do better?

2019 is likely to be the year when the deficiencies and advantages of the occupational health and safety (OHS) approach to the prevention and management of the psychological harm produced by work-related sexual harassment will contrast (clash?) with the approach used by the Human Resources (HR) profession.  For many, many years OHS has failed to implement the control measures that the available research and guidance recommended.  For the same length of time, HR has largely focused on addressing the organisational consequences of accusations of sexual harassment displaying a preference for legal action or to move the accuser out of the organisation.

These approaches persist but there is some hope that recognition of each others’ role and purpose can bridge the ideological demarcations.  Australia’s inquiries into work- and non-work-related harassment have the potential to change the way psychological harm is seen, managed and, maybe, prevented.

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The Shock of the New

The Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) has recently published an article about the significant Human Resources trends for 2019. The trends identified include

  •  “A Change of Government”
  •  “Gig Economy Classification”
  •  “Sexual Harassment”
  •  “Technology Trends”

SafetyAtWorkBlog will be more specific in its occupational health and safety (OHS) “trends” for 2019.

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Addressing the invisible causes of visible harm

The trade union movement was instrumental in showing that workplace bullying was a pervasive problem in Australian workplaces.  Many Codes of Practice and guidances for workplace bullying and occupational violence were written shortly after the action by the Australian Council of Trade Unions almost two decades ago.  But, for some reason, although sexual harassment was mentioned in those early documents, it never received the attention in occupational health and safety (OHS) circles that, in hindsight, it should have.

Perhaps a more sustainable and effective strategy would be to focus on the “harassment” rather than the “sexual”, or in

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