OHS law could prevent the psychological harm of sexual harassment

The prevention of psychological harm generated by sexual harassment has been a recurring theme in the SafetyAtWorkBlog. It is heartening to see similar discussions appearing in labour law research.

An article, published in the Australian Journal of Labour Law, called “Preventing Sexual Harassment in Work: Exploring the Promise of Work Health and Safety Laws” written by Belinda Smith, Melanie Schleiger and Liam Elphick strengthens the role that occupational health and safety (OHS) laws can play in preventing sexual harassment and its harm.

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Harm prevention gets short shrift from Aigroup report

The Australian Industry Group has released research into workplace mental health conducted by Griffith University. The AiGroup claims it is a

“… a landmark study into mental health initiatives taken in local workplaces”.

It is far from it. Workplace mental health will only become more important in 2020 with reports due from the Productivity Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission. Sadly the AiGroup report gives inadequate attention to the prevention of work-related psychological harm even though this has been identified by some Australian mental health experts as the most cost-effective and sustainable business strategy.

The most obvious problem with the report is with this statement:

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2020 OHS plans for Queensland mines

Open cut rock quarry on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Source: zstockphotos

The Queensland Government’s “Safety Reset” of its mining industry was a remarkable achievement in 2019. The government intends to be equally active in occupational health and safety (OHS) in 2020, according to a media release dated 18 January 2020. Below are its “current and upcoming health and safety reforms”:

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Good article ……. And?

There is an article doing the rounds of some of the American newspapers called “Shaping culture to be psychologically healthy” by Bill Howatt. It is a solid article but illustrates some of the limited thinking common to advocates of psychological health in workplaces.

Howatt writes about establishing and managing a suitable culture through leadership, education, awareness and other activities. But organisational cultures operate within a larger pool of cultural contexts and, most importantly, business structures.

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Wade Needham

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It’s been a while since SafetyAtWorkBlog offered a profile on one of its subscribers. Wade Needham was generous enough to answer some questions about himself. His responses are intriguing and he provides excellents links to other resources.

Wade Needham on the far right in 2018 with, from the left, Tim Allred, Andrew Barrett and Naomi Kemp

If you are a SafetyAtWorkBlog subscriber and would like to follow Wade’s lead, email your responses to the following questions:

  • How did you get into Health & Safety?
  • What drives you?
  • What helps you slow down?
  • Regrets?
  • Favourite fiction writer?
  • What is one trend you are watching keenly?
  • Person/s who you watch and take inspiration from in H&S that you think will have an increasing impact in the sector:
  • What are you most excited about in our sector?
  • What’s your favourite quote?
  • Biggest issue facing the H&S profession?
  • What do you wish you had understood sooner?
  • What would you like to see to improve collaboration in our sector?
  • What should you have been doing whilst you answered this?
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