Sniping in social media raises issues about hydration

A spat has recently emerged on one of the safety discussion forums in Linkedin.  The catalyst was a statement that

The source of this data, not disclosed at the time of the original post, was a company that sells

“…a great tasting, scientifically proven mix of cutting-edge branch chain amino acids and low Gi carbohydrates for sustained energy release, combined with a formulated blend of electrolytes for optimum hydration in harsh Australian conditions”.

The discussion quickly refocused from the original safety concern to one of unreliability of statements; sadly the discussion also became personal and abusive. but the discussion raised two discussion points:

  • The reliability of statements on the internet, and
  • the issue of hydration and work performance.

Continue reading “Sniping in social media raises issues about hydration”

Beyondblue’s latest research report is too narrow

Beyondblue has just released a report into the cost of mental health in the workplace prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and called “Creating a mentally healthy workplace – Return on investment analysis“. The report is interesting but of limited use for those looking for ways to make their own workplaces safer and healthier with minimal cost.  The Beyondblue  media release claims

“… that Australian businesses will receive an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they invest in effective workplace mental health strategies.

The research, which looked at the impact of employees’ mental health conditions on productivity, participation and compensation claims, also found these conditions cost Australian employers at least $10.9 billion a year.”

The first claim looks attractive but achieving such a return is unlikely unless the company includes the following:

  • “commitment from organisational leaders,
  • employee participation,
  • development and implementation of policies,
  • provision of the necessary resources, and
  • a sustainable approach.” (page iv)

The best chance for the return on investment (ROI) will likely occur in a company that has an enlightened management, “necessary resources” and a leadership that is already likely to have mental health and a safe organisational culture on its agenda.  This is a rare combination which limits the application of the PwC report findings.

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Proposed drug testing – a political tool

On 6 February 2014 the Victorian Premier. Denis Napthine, announced the intention to

“…require construction companies to implement comprehensive drug and alcohol screening measures to ensure the safety of workers to be eligible to tender for Victorian Government construction contracts.”

This is to be part of the occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations of companies under the Implementation Guidelines to the Victorian Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry.  Understandably the construction union, particularly, is angry and feels as if it is being singled out.  Both organisations have chosen their words very carefully. Premier Napthine is quoted as saying:

“Reports of illicit drug use and distribution on Victorian construction sites are widespread.”

The CFMEU‘s Victorian Secretary John Setka has stated that

“There is no epidemic of drug taking on construction sites…. Our Health and Safety representatives who look out for workers’ health and safety are not reporting a problem.”

It is unlikely there is an epidemic of drug use but the Premier is talking of drugs AND alcohol.  

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CSB pushes for a more effective discussion on fatigue management

Occupational health and safety has many examples of addressing small or short-term issues rather than  facing the difficult and hard, but more sustainable, control measures. I was reminded of this by a recent media statement from the United States Chemical Safety Board (CSB) in relation to fatigue management.

In 2007 the CSB recommended that, following the Texas City refinery fire,

“the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the United Steelworkers International Union (USW) jointly lead the development of an ANSI consensus standard with guidelines for fatigue prevention in the refinery and petrochemical industries.” [links added]

The progress of API and USW in developing the 2010 ANSI-approved Recommended Practice 755 (RP 755) has been reviewed by the CSB staff and they have found the following disturbing problems:

  • “The document was not the result of an effective consensus process, and therefore does not constitute a tool that multiple stakeholders in the industry can “own.” It was not balanced in terms of stakeholder interests and perspectives, and did not sufficiently incorporate or take into account the input of experts from other industry sectors that have addressed fatigue risks. Continue reading “CSB pushes for a more effective discussion on fatigue management”

WorkSafe tries a new promotional approach

The increasing prevalence of pictorial social media has generated a surge in organisations generating “infographics” from workplace health and safety statistics Almost always these images are a technique for generating internet traffic through established websites, blogs and other online services. Fundamentally it is stealth advertising for the unwary online user. However, such images have much greater legitimacy when offered by OHS regulators.

In the week prior to its WorkSafe Week 2012, WorkSafe Victoria issued two online infographics as part of a media statement. Both are attractive by their simplicity but the simplicity can also be a problem.

The cost comparison infographic is super general but clearly illustrates that the cost to prevent harm is much less than any fine that may come from prosecution. However, the risk of being prosecuted in Victoria and receiving a monetary penalty seems to be declining as non-pecuniary penalties, such as enforceable undertakings and others, are made available to the Courts.

Fines are only one of the potential costs. An inescapable cost is the cost to the injured worker, the disruption to that worker’s family life, the disruption to the worker’s employer. Continue reading “WorkSafe tries a new promotional approach”

Half bored and tired to death

They both nodded in agreement when she said, “I’m half bored to death in this job, nearly had it”.  Both women were freezing, sitting outside in the covered area.  Their fingers blue.

The short morning break.  You hurry, you panic, get a quick hot drink, a cigarette, quickly back into it.  Hour after hour after hour “for the last 20 years” she said.  From 5 am when she gets up to do things before rushing to work to start at 7 am.  Rush back home at 3 pm to pick up ‘the youngan-whydidIdoit’ as she said of her late in life baby.  She looked about 40.

Of course workplace fatalities and injuries are heart breaking tragedies.  People work to earn a living, this is not a war zone.   But the more common issues at work, those that grind people hour by hour for decades of their one single life are not to do with that.

They are to do with what in polite text will spawn dots.  It’s to do with the daily tiredness, humiliation and wall-to-wall disrespect experienced by so many workers on a daily basis. It’s to do with that exhausting sense of,  ‘I’ve just about had enough’.  It’s to do with what I call F..kwit Fatigue. Continue reading “Half bored and tired to death”

2007 interview on working hours, stress and resilience

In July 2007, I interviewed Michael Licenblat on the issues of workplace stress for the SafetyAtWork podcast.  Although the audio quality is not of a professional standard, it is worth revisiting Licenblat’s words as he discusses hours of work, particularly in light of the latest report by the Australian Medical Association on doctors and fatigue.

Kevin Jones