Everything you think you know about safety boots may be wrong

Source: istockphoto.com

SafetyAtWorkBlog reader Tony wrote a long comment on safety footwear in response to a blog article from 2016. The comment deserves its own post, below.

Hi Kevin – arriving at this conversation incredibly late (though ‘better late than never’, as I believe someone once intoned), but there’s a decent reason I’m now invested in the conversation.

I recently spent an interesting hour or so with a sports podiatrist discussing, as you would suspect, footwear. More specifically, we talked about footwear to suite workers who spend the bulk of their time outdoors, working and walking on innumerable forms of uneven surfaces. And more specifically again, we discussed the degree(s) of ankle protection that, evidently, high-cut boots are able to provide.

But…

One of the take-home messages I took was the (apparent) absence of data to support the continued promotion of ‘high-cut’ footwear, when it comes to trying to provide ankle protection.

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Rotting fish and leadership

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Occupational health and safety (OHS) has been obsessed by Leadership for a long time. Leadership is important to establish safe and health workplaces but there is certainly a lot more to change than waiting for the boss to see the light. In many of these discussions, someone will use this phrase to emphasize the importance of leadership:

A fish rots first from the head

This is a biologically suspicious statement that SafetyAtWorkBlog has been eying to verify or dismiss for several years, unsuccessfully. A new fact checking website site drawing on the scientific community has been established and SafetyAtWorkBlog recently posed this question to www.metafact.io:

Does a fish rot from the head?

Let’s see what the experts say but in the meantime, please post your thoughts and comments on the question below.

Kevin Jones

Trade unions temper language on ABCC safety role

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The politics of industrial relations will be a crucial element of Australia’s Federal election due later this year.  The Federal Government has already used workplace safety as a reason for the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).  The trade union movement’s latest response is a campaign launched on April 10, 2016 accompanied by an online video. Continue reading “Trade unions temper language on ABCC safety role”

OHS is not broken but does need attention

Recently an article was posted on SHPOnline called “Health and safety needs a re-brand“.  The article by Anna Keen ties in with the Safety Differently or Safety 1-Safety 2 movements but needs to be considered carefully.

The street interviews were conducted in England where occupational health and safety (OHS) has undergone such a slagging off by the tabloid media that the Health and Safety Executive had to devote resources to countering the misrepresentation of OHS.  This misrepresentation has been occurring since the mid-2000s.  The video in the article is conformation of the success of the tabloid media outrage that even led to a pathetic attempt at comedy at OHS’s expense.

OHS, particularly in the United Kingdom but less so in Australia, has a perception problem which is clear from the video but will re-branding be enough?  

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Drug and alcohol testing does not improve workplace safety, so why have it?

cover of EN455_NCETA_2011-2 Testing for drug and alcohol effects in workplaces sounds sensible but what do you do when there is no evidence that it improves worker safety or reduces risk? Apparently ignore the evidence, create industrial tension and impose unnecessary costs on industry.

The Australian national government and the Victorian (State) government have both pledged to introduce drug and alcohol testing for the construction sector.  The Victorian Government also promised to introduce drug and alcohol testing for parliamentarians but everyone expects a backdown on that election pledge.

Recently two researchers in Adelaide, Ken Pidd and Anne Roche published a research paper in Accident Analysis & Prevention asking “how effective is drug testing as a workplace safety strategy?“.  The abstract states:

“…the evidence base for the effectiveness of testing in improving workplace safety is at best tenuous.”

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