Tooma on Mental Health – Review

Michael Tooma is probably the most prominent occupational health and safety (OHS) lawyer in Australia. His latest book is, a little pretentiously, called “Michael Tooma on Mental Health“, but it fits with the series of OHS-related publications he has written for Wolters Kluwer. Unusually for a lawyer, there are only two chapters that specifically discuss legislative obligations, and, in many ways, these are the least interesting.


Positive Mental Health

In the Introduction, Tooma goes out of his way to stress the positive benefits of work. He is critical of the current OHS approach to workplace stress writing that we seek a “Goldilocks” application of perfection when this is really subjectively determined by each worker. Tooma challenges this in a major way through the 2012 study by Keller and others:

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Another safety awards night

October each year contains several occupational health and safety (OHS) award ceremonies. Those operated by State OHS regulators used to feed into a national awards night in April hosted by Safe Work Australia, but that fell over. The rejuvenated Safety Institute of Australia, now renamed the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) has taken the plunge setting up a new national award process in competition to that operated for many years by the NSCA Foundation and, to a lesser extent, the awards by the various State-based OHS regulators..

According to a media release from the AIHS:

“The Australian Institute of Health & Safety (AIHS) is proud to announce the creation of the Australian Workplace Health & Safety Awards (AWHSA), to be held 27 May 2020 at the Melbourne Convention Centre, and annually thereafter”

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Early WHS submissions are a mixed bag

The first lot of anonymous submissions to Australia’s Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws is an interesting mix.

One seems written by a regional paramedic calling for increased prescription of workplace first aid requirements. There are complaints about the contents of first aid kits which should have been addressed by the occupational health and safety (OHS) option of providing equipment to meet the results of a first aid needs analysis about which the submitter says:

“The recommendation to add additional items based on an appropriate risk assessment is almost, to my knowledge, never completed.”

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What First Aid can say about a workplace culture

The Australian Financial Review for 31 July 2017 included an article (paywalled) reporting on unfair dismissal proceedings involving a first aid officer, Audrey Gatt, at Crown Resort‘s casino and entertainment complex in Melbourne, Australia. The article includes allegations by Gatt that First Aid was withheld from injured workers and patrons.

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First aid marketing campaign deserves analysis – again

The Age cover 22 October 2013St John Ambulance made a bold statement on the cover of The Age newspaper on 22 October 2013:

“87% of businesses are not FIRST AID READY.  This puts your employees, customers and business at risk.”

This statement repeats some of the inaccuracies that SafetyAtWorkBlog pointed out in March 2013. Continue reading “First aid marketing campaign deserves analysis – again”

First aid marketing exercise requires analysis

It is common to use a self-commissioned survey to market one’s services but sometimes the evidence does not support some of the marketing statements. The latest survey by St John Ambulance is a good example of this.

According to St John Ambulance’s media release on 13 March 2013:

“Only 13 per cent of Australian workplaces know how to keep their employees safe according to new research released … by … St John Ambulance Australia.”

Cover of First aid in the workplace - code 2012This is reworded in the report (page 2) as

“…only 13% of Australian businesses are compliant with the new [First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice]’s requirements…”

The survey sample does not support the generalisations above. Continue reading “First aid marketing exercise requires analysis”

St John Ambulance claims first aid training could counter the OHS culture of fear

First aid is one of the most neglected, even though vital, safety resources in workplaces. Although most workplaces will have someone trained in first aid working for them, this is rarely integrated into a workplace let alone into any preventative safety management processes.

Recently St John Ambulance in England, according to one newspaper report, claimed that

“Better training would have a greater effect on the health and safety culture than changes to regulations discussed by the [UK] Government…”

The St John Ambulance CEO, Sue Killen [not the most appropriate surname for a CEO of a lifesaving organisation] spoke about the UK Prime Minister’s “culture of fear” saying by asking:

“…what is causing this fear? At St John Ambulance, we believe it comes from a lack of knowledge – specifically, first aid knowledge. Continue reading “St John Ambulance claims first aid training could counter the OHS culture of fear”