Occupational health and safety (OHS) is easy. Change is hard. OHS can identify workplace hazards and risks but it is the employer or business owner or Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU) who needs to make the decision to change. All of this activity occurs within, and due to, the culture of each workplace and work location. OHS lives within, and affects, each company’s organisational culture but a safety subculture is almost invisible, so it is worth looking at the broader organisational culture and there is no better show, at the moment in Australia, than The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (the Banking Royal Commission).
Public submissions are littered with references to culture but it is worth looking more closely at what one of the corporate financial regulators said in a submission in April 2018. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) wrote:
The Governance Institute of Australia hosted a discussion about “Corporate culture and people risk — lessons from the Royal Commission”. The seminar was worthwhile attending but there was also moments of discomfort.
The reality was that The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was not discussed in any great detail as it was treated as a ghost hovering behind the discussion but not a scary ghost, almost a ghost of embarrassment.
And it seems that “People Risk” is what the Human Resource (HR) profession calls occupational health and safety (OHS) when it can’t bring itself to say occupational health and safety.
Years ago I was advised how to read a newspaper article – the first two paragraphs and the last. The exclusive front page article in The Australian ($ paywalled) on August 15 2018 about occupational health and safety (OHS) management at Sydney’s light rail construction project is a good example of what journalists choose to write and what they are obliged to write.
“A pedestrian had ribs broken, workers have been run over and fallen in holes, and there have been near-misses that could have caused deaths or serious injuries in hundreds of safety breaches on the Sydney CBD light rail project over the past 18 months.
The extraordinary catalogue is detailed in CBD and South East Light Rail Advisory Board minutes obtained by The Australian.”
The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) regularly updates the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations administered by its Corporate Governance Council. The Council has recently closed submissions on its consultation on the Fourth Edition. The submissions are worth looking at to see how occupational health and safety (OHS) fairs, and it is also worth looking for mentions of the “social licence to operate”.
The 3rd edition of the principles provides examples of what it means to be a “good corporate citizen” (page 19),
It is almost impossible to underestimate the impact that Australia’s Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation
and Financial Services Industry is already having on the corporate cultures of Australian businesses. The effective management of occupational health and safety (OHS) relies on effective consultation, trust and respect just as does any other element in a company’s organisational culture.
The media on August 13 2018 has been