Co-operation may address safety in the work of the future

The investigation of work-related incidents needs to be considered from a broad multidisciplinary perspective.  But occupational health and safety (OHS) itself, applies a much narrower and, some may say, insular perspective.  It hasn’t “played well with others”.  At the recent Comcare conference in Melbourne, Australia, writer Tim Dunlop (pictured right) challenged this type of perception.  He said:

“My point is that it is hard to break out of certain habits of thinking.  Governments pay lip service to the idea that technology will change everything, but then they start talking about jobs and growth as if we were still living in the sixties, where the economy was based on manufacturing, where manufacturing was carried out of factories, employing millions of workers, where the workers were men and where the women stayed at home and looked after the kids.  Those days are gone, and in the future they will be ever more gone.  But the norms of that era I think still informing how we think about the future of work.”

OHS, and some of the safety regulators, may acknowledge the changing future of work

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New reporting standard reflects the social licence

Inaccurate or insufficient data about occupational health and safety (OHS) plagues the decision-making of governments and business, and OHS professionals.  Technology has provided some hope on better datasets but only for the analysis of data, not necessarily the quality of that data. Workplace incidents and issues continue to be under-reported, especially non-traumatic incidents. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) offers a framework for better reporting of OHS issues and incidents which also improves the credibility of companies, helping to regain the trust of the community.

Recently, GRI released its latest

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New President and new approaches to unionism

ACTU Executive with Michele O’Neil second from left

Day One of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ Congress was memorable for a couple of reasons.  The appointment of Michele O’Neil, pictured right, as the President was a notable achievement, one made more memorable as she denied any desire to move onto a political appointment. The other memorable event was a string of shopfloor representatives outlining their innovative approaches to the recruitment of members and the creation of (sub)unions for hospitality workers, hairdressers and indigenous workers in the Northern Territory.

Workplace safety was mentioned a couple of times in passing but occupational health and safety (OHS) seems to becoming more a thing that is, rather than a thing that is named.  If we look for it, we find it.

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Trade unions need to look for change beyond legislation

Danny Glover addressing the ACTU Congress on July 16 2018

The 2018 Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACT) is happening in the middle of a campaign to “Change the Rules”.  These “Rules” are largely concerning with industrial relations, of which Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is a subset, or complementary, element. Legislation constantly needs challenging and review; much legislation, like Australian Standards, misses their expiry dates and persists too long,  becoming increasingly seen as irrelevant.

OHS has the “luxury” of having been reviewed nationally within the last decade.  For some Australian States this change was progressive but for most it was a catch up to contemporary standards and expectations.  OHS laws have not progressed since and a lot of hope is placed on the current Independent Review of Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws to enliven the discussions, yet that report is not due until 2019.

Trade unions have a great deal of faith in legislation to achieve change.  

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Exclusive reports from the 2018 ACTU Congress

SafetyAtWorkBlog will be reporting from the biennial Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. For the first time   Trade unions have been pivotal for the creation and enforcement of occupational health and safety (OHS) around the world.

Most of the past reporting on these events in mainstream media has focused on politics and industrial relations.  OHS tends to get overlooked so SafetyAtWorkBlog’s attendance will be important.

Articles from the Congress will be available only to Subscribers. Continue reading “Exclusive reports from the 2018 ACTU Congress”

Factbook, short on OHS facts

The Australia Institute has released a “factbook” about The Dimensions of Insecure Work.  It is little more than a snapshot of some of the labour situations in Australia centring on the fact that

“Less than half of employed Australians now hold a “standard” job: that is, a permanent full-time paid job with leave entitlements”

This changed demographic is significant whenever the Government or its departments and agencies take about job and employment figures.  The reliance on full time employment as the core metric should be reviewed and revised but this is likely to change our view of the world through official reports . 

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The good, the odd and the ignorant

One of the Select Committees of the Australian Senate is conducting an inquiry into the “Future of Work and Workers” and is currently holding public hearings.  There is a lot of interesting information that will affect how workplace health and safety is managed and there are some odd statements in the public submissions.  However, it was the appearance of Airtasker’s CEO at a public hearing on May 4, that is genuinely scary.

Job Design

Firstly a positive statement from the

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