Reopening challenges are more like manageable inconveniences

Many Australian workplaces will be reopening in the next few weeks.  Their productivity capacity will change, their workplaces, will change and their approach to, and understanding of, occupational health and safety (OHS) will need to change.  But there are signs that some business owners and employers are embracing risk and safety in this new operating climate but there are others who are either denying the changes needed, are struggling to think creatively, are ill-informed or are stupid.  Most of these realities were on display in a single edition of the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on May 8, 2020 (paywalled) – the primary source for this article.

The timing of the newspaper edition is important as it was published on the morning before the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, revealed the decisions of the National Cabinet. A further blog article will be produced on those decisions shortly.

Lifts and Whinging

The AFR front page carried a short story called “Elevated risks in office lifts” that shows the deficiencies of several thought processes mentioned above.

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Toughen up, Princess

Today the Medical Journal of Australia released a media statement entitled:

“FIFO workers’ psychological distress “alarming””

What is more alarming is that the levels of psychological distress have remained high even though there have been inquiries into the mental health of Fly-In Fly-Out workers in Western Australia and Queensland since 2014!!

Western Australian research undertaken by

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The wisdom of a farming Near Miss

Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) agenda seems largely dictated by high risk industries like construction in some States and the mining sector in others. But agriculture is common to all Australia States and is consistently included in the official and unofficial workplace fatality data. New research has been released into serious farm injuries and which voices are the most effective in improving the situation.

The level of risk in Australian farms is illustrated well by

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We need to ask tougher questions about FIFO

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On the recommendation of one of my subscribers I am currently listening to a podcast called Food For Thought which includes a discussion on the mental health issues associated with the Fly-In -Fly-Out (FIFO) work structure.  This article is being written as I listen to the podcast so follows the threads as spoken.

Various major Australian inquiries have been held into the occupational health and safety of FIFO workers for the mining sector. The potential psychological harm of FIFO is indisputable so why aren’t we asking the tough questions and thinking about the harm that we are allowing to occur?

Source: istockphoto

Continue reading “We need to ask tougher questions about FIFO”

One man’s frustration with OHS illustrates larger safety dysfunctions

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Terry Reis has written a terrific article about how occupational health and safety (OHS) requirements can impede his work as a fauna ecologist.  Instead of whingeing about green or red tape, Terry has provided examples of the annoyance which allows me to build an article in response.  This article is in no way a rebuttal as I agree with most of Terry’s grievances, but there can be reasons behind some of the grievances that are likely to be unrelated to OHS or illustrate poor OHS decisions.

Some of the issues Terry raises include:

  • Inductions
  • PPE
  • Working Alone
  • OHS arguments
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing
  • Permits

Inductions

Terry mentions the irrelevance of many OHS inductions and his article seems to indicate a dysfunctional induction program.  The intention of inductions is to outline the safety rules of a workplace or task but most are boring, condescending or include information that is unrelated to the task. The reality of many inductions is that they are a mechanism to have workers sign up and indicate they have understood all of their safety obligations on a site so that there is a clearer line of responsibility in the event of an incident.   Continue reading “One man’s frustration with OHS illustrates larger safety dysfunctions”