Suicide Prevention Forum and Mental Health First Aid for workers

In March 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its latest figures into the causes of death. A lot of media attention was given to the figures showing an increase in the suicide rate.  It found that

“Among those aged 15 to 44, the leading causes of death were Intentional self-harm (suicide)…”

Dr Claire Kelly, Manager, Youth Programs, Mental Health First Aid Australia, talking at the Suicide Prevention Forum 2016
Dr Claire Kelly, Manager, Youth Programs, Mental Health First Aid Australia, talking at the Suicide Prevention Forum 2016

On the day those figures were released, the

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Labour Hire Inquiry submissions address OHS, sort of

The Victorian Government has concluded the public hearing section of its inquiry into Labour Hire. Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins has said in a media release that

“Evidence has been put to the inquiry suggesting widespread  underpayment of award wages, tax avoidance, nonpayment of superannuation, poor occupational health and safety practices, maltreatment of workers and backpackers on visas, and, in some instances, allegations of illegal conduct.”

This article focusses on the occupational health and safety (OHS) evidence provided through the

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Sex Work regulations review safety obligations

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2000 edition of SafetyATWORK magazine addressing some of the OHS issues in brothels

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) is seeking public comment on some proposed revisions of the Sex Work Regulations.  Several revisions specifically address workplace safety issues but also indicate out-of-date thinking on worker safety and safety management.

Victoria licences its brothels and, as such, the occupational health and safety (OHS) laws apply as they do to all workplaces. However, the regulators of the sex industry seem to perceive OHS usually in terms of sexual health and hygiene even though statistics have shown that these issues are low risk hazards. This perception has lasted well over a decade as this 2000 article from National Safety magazine shows. Continue reading “Sex Work regulations review safety obligations”

Important research into workplace cyber-bullying

Last week several Australian news sites reported on a new thesis about public servants and cyber-bullying which is discussed in detail below. The reports are based mostly on a media release about the research issued by Queensland University of Technology (QUT).  What caught my eye was the statement in the one media report that the researcher, Dr Felicity Lawrence,

“…said traditional workplace bullying already cost the nation about $36 billion a year, “so the cost of cyber bullying on productivity could be profound”.

Not true.  In the QUT statement, Lawrence stated

“Traditional workplace bullying costs the national economy up to $36 billion each year, so the cost of cyberbullying on productivity could be profound,…”

“up to” vs “about? This differentiation is important because the lack of clarity creates OHS myths and these myths can misinform policy priorities and public understanding of workplace hazards.

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Where workplace bullying sits in Australia’s IR review

Cover of workplace-relations-volume1Australia’s Productivity Commission (PC) has released its final report into the Workplace Relations Framework.  Almost all media discussion has been about potential changes to penalty rates but, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, workplace bullying is part of the inquiry’s terms of reference, submissions were sought on this and the final report identifies one view on the current state of play.

The Australian newspaper has summarised the report as rubbish while The Age has described it as a “fair assessment“.  These polarised interpretations say more about mainstream media ideologies than they do about the report, but they reflect the dichotomy between unions and business and the Left and the Right, and need to be remembered when reading their articles about occupational health and safety (OHS).

Volume 2 of the PC’s report includes a chapter (19) specifically addressing workplace bullying but the issue crops up throughout  Volume 1 to illustrate the Fair Work Commission’s operations, where bullying fits in the workplace relations framework and even as bullying relates to breastfeeding.

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EU provides clues for improving safety management

Cover of ef1551enThe European Union conducts research into occupational health and safety that, although there may be cultural and legislative differences, deserves attention from outside that geographical region.  Recently EuroFound released its annual review for 2014.  There are a couple of research projects that deserve consideration, particularly return-on-investment in construction safety, violence at work, psychosocial issues and precarious work risks. Continue reading “EU provides clues for improving safety management”

Full time at union OHS representatives conference

2015-10-27 HSR Conference brochureThe Health and Safety Representatives’ Conference, organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council as part of Victoria’s WorkSafe Week, was notable for the lack of politics. Previous conferences have often focussed on political campaigns such as Your Rights At Work but this was largely absent from the presentations.  There were some political questions from the floor but that was expected.

The conference had some particular highlights relevant to the broader Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) profession.

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