The future of work and OHS – yeah, but…..

ASHPA, the Australian Safety and Health Professional Associations has been quiet for a while but sponsored La Trobe University to undertake some research into the future of work and its impacts on occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals, hygienists, ergonomists and others.  It is an interesting insight into the thoughts and perspectives of safety and health professionals but it also cries out for interpretation and analysis.

The report, not yet available online, is based on the responses of 733 safety and health professionals to an online survey.  The statistical profile of the profession in Australia is useful and the key findings

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Firefighting, WorkCover and OHS

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – 2011 July 10: Fire fighters supporting colleague on roof gaining access to a garage on fire in an residential area.

Some years ago there was a rumour that no workers’ compensation claims by firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) were investigated and/or rejected by the MFB. The reason was that the United Firefighters’ Union would question any investigation on behalf of its members which would likely result in increased industrial relations tension.

Workers compensation data obtained by SafetyAtWorkBlog from the MFB under Freedom of Information seems to have scotched that rumour but does provide some interesting information which may also justify radical workplace health and safety thinking for this sector.

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Is the Senate a workplace?

Recently Australian media was entranced with an argument over gender politics between two Senators, David Leyonjhelm and Sarah Hanson-Young.  One of the elements in the argument concerns sexual harassment in the workplace but is the Australian Parliament a workplace like any other Australian workplace? And does this really matter?

In the aftermath of the initial argument, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said:

“David Leyonhjelm’s offensive remarks should have been withdrawn the moment they were uttered and he should have apologised. And it’s not too late for him to withdraw and apologise.

That type of language has no place in Parliament and it shouldn’t have a place in any workplace. We have to treat each other with respect, we must do that. Respect for women in particular is one of the highest priorities that we should be focused on. I just want to be very clear about this.

It is a, you know, we often talk about domestic violence and our concerns there and all the measures we’re taking to address it. I just want to say this, it’s a reminder to everybody that not all disrespecting women ends in violence against women, but that is where all violence against women begins. So you need to have respectful workplaces where we treat each other with respect. Where we disagree, we disagree in respectful language……” (emphasis added)

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Paula Schubert was bullied before her suicide

In November 2016, 53-year old Paula Schubert hanged herself. On July 25 2018 the Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh described the behaviour of managers at her employer, the Norther Territory Department of Children and Families/Territory Families as bullying.

The full Coronial Findings are an important read for any organisation to understand how managerial activities and attitudes can negatively affect workers. 

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What Boland’s Independent Review has been hearing

On July 19 2018, Marie Boland, who is conducting an independent review into Australia’s work health and safety (WHS) laws, spoke at the Closing The Loop conference, hosted by the Self Insurers of South Australia (SISA).   Boland’s inquiry has been a little quiet as it undertakes its consultation and investigation but Boland provided some insight at the SISA conference.

According to Boland’s presentation (not available online),

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