How will people know you’ve won a safety award?

Modern-day events such as conferences, seminars and awards nights rely on social media strategies to maximise the value of the event and the communication opportunities they afford. This year the WorkSafe Victoria Awards night seems to have applied a thin social media strategy even though it has important stories to tell.

Usually, signs, brochures, information booklets and even tables mention the social media hashtag that the event organisers want the audience to use to promote and record the event. This year WorkSafe Victoria mentioned #WSAwards21 at the night’s start and never again. The hashtag was nowhere to be seen. This may be a major factor in the very low Twitter activity.

As of the time of writing, Twitter had 29 mentions of the #WSAwards21 hashtag, most posted by WorkSafe itself. I tweeted five of them. The audience members or finalists have tweeted only three times.

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Confrontation with PM involves workers’ compensation

Last week Australian media covered a confrontation between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a pensioner, Ray, in Newcastle. Most of the coverage focused on Ray’s criticism of the commitments of the Morrison Government to support and reward those citizens willing to “have go”. The full 5-minute video provides a much better context to the man’s complaints than do the short edits on most media bulletins. That context seems to include concerns about workers’ compensation and the processes of the Dust and Diseases Board.

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A mouse that is trying to roar

Robert Gottliebsen continues to support the campaign led by Self-Employed Australia’s Ken Phillips, to have senior members of the Victorian government prosecuted for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act. However, his arguments are becoming weaker.

On February 13 2022, in his column in The Australian (paywalled), Gottliebsen made big claims for Phillips’ legal action, which is being crowdfunded and advised by anonymous (but “some of Australia’s top OHS”) lawyers. He concluded his latest article saying:

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Trade Unions, Cost, Exploitation and Responsibilisation

Trade unions have been the longest and strongest advocates on occupational health and safety (OHS) in Australia. Still, their political influence is falling slower than its declining membership due to structural legacies, of which the tripartite OHS consultation is one. The trade union strategy for OHS was to monetise it so that changes in OHS could be the catalyst for or on which it can piggyback industrial relations (IR) reform. A recent review of the work of Professor Michael Quinlan and a video from United States economist and author Robert Reich illustrates elements of this process.

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Australia Day and OHS

[Article updated at 5.00pm]

Three Australians have received recognition on today’s Australia Day HonoursKate Cole, Michelle Baxter and Sharann Johnson for occupational health and safety work, The official citations are for “For service to workplace health and safety”, “For outstanding public service to the health and safety of Australian workplaces and the community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic” and “For significant service to community health as an occupational hygienist, and to service groups” respectively.

I have never met these recipients, but I have heard several of them speak in various locations and media. The Australia Day process itself provides very little detail of accomplishments, so it is up to each of us to watch for mentions and profiles in the media over the next week or so. To help in this endeavour, below are some relevant links and hashtags.

Many award recipients have affected health and safety conditions in various workplaces. The health care setting and COVID-19 are of particular relevance, but occupational health and safety rarely gets this level of recognition. Often, no one receives an award in this sector, so this year is unique and important.

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Australia’s Prime Minister shows his ineffectiveness on OHS and COVID

Pragmatism was a theme of yesterday’s blog article. On January 19 2022, Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, showed political pragmatism in his press conference. His comments could create more discomfort between State and Federal jurisdiction and more occupational health and safety (OHS) confusion for business owners and employers.

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Why is the world “enthusiastic” for regulations?

Unsurprising from a global business magazine, The Economist’s special report on January 15 2002 (paywalled*) bemoaned the new “enthusiasm for regulation”. It clearly includes occupational health and safety (OHS) laws and Australia in its consideration but stops short of asking why this new enthusiasm exists.

Many regulations, especially in OHS, are proposed and introduced to address a wrong or misbehaviour or a new hazard. A major catalyst for Lord Robens‘ OHS laws in the 1970s stemmed from industrial deaths, especially those of the public. The pattern of deaths as a catalyst for change continues today with the Industrial Manslaughter laws, for instance. Another catalyst is new cultural sensitivities; what was tolerated previously is no longer acceptable.

The workplace bullying changes late last century in Australia is a good example, but this also ties in with unacceptable levels of harm. Bullying was often part of the initiation to work and seemed acceptable until workers were severely injured and traumatised, and people found out about it.

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