Steve Bell outlines the challenges for the OHS profession and Regulators

Almost every year, for a couple of decades, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) have conducted a breakfast seminar to “launch” the year. That schedule has been cocked up by COVID-19, but the events continue.

The August 2021 breakfast featured several of the usual speakers but with the omission of the Minister for Workplace Safety or a senior representative of Worksafe Victoria. As a result, the event dragged a little. Most of the information was useful, but the event lacked the spark it often has. Perhaps this was the online format, perhaps the mix of speakers, perhaps the 90-minute length.

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More workplace bullshit, but in a good way

Bullshit is starting to gain some serious analysis with four researchers recently publishing “Confronting indifference toward truth: Dealing with workplace bullshit” in Business Horizons. One attraction of this research paper is its focus on workplace business communications and conversations, but it is almost impossible to read it without thinking of the recently ousted United States President and how lies and “fake news” have dominated international political discourse.

Another attraction is that it is not just an analysis but one that also suggests pathways to detect and reduce the bullshit. What I was unprepared for was to start to feel sympathy for the bullshitter.

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Integration struggles at workplace mental health conference

The Criterion Conference called “Improving Integrated Approaches to Workplace Mental Health” is a curious one. There is a lot of information about workplace mental health but a lot less about a “integrated approach”.

The audience had a good mix of delegates from Australian States and as well as occupations of Human Resources (HR) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), as well as some State Safety Regulators. The separate silos of HR and OHS were on display even though it is these very disciplines that must be integrated for Australian businesses to truly grasp how mental ill-health can be prevented. One example of the gap could be seen in relation to resilience training.

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Ethics, safety and fingertips

Last week the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) launched its Body of Knowledge Chapter on Ethics in Melbourne to a small group of occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals. Participants were asked to outline an ethical challenge they had faced as OHS professionals.

In that same week, WorkSafe Victoria issued a media release that showed a poor follow-through by a business on advice from an OHS professional.

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones with family in Paris 2012

I thought I might follow Wade Needham’s reflections and thoughts with my own. Indulgent? Maybe.

How did you get into Health & Safety?

My first contact with workplace health and safety was as an Administrative Officer in the Victorian Department of Labour in the late 1980s before moving to the Occupational Health and Safety Authority, the precursor to WorkSafe Victoria, in the early 1990s.  I worked in the Major Hazards Branch and was involved in preparing options for the relocation of the Coode Island chemical storage facility before it exploded.

What drives you?

The Health and Safety profession has been notoriously shy in expressing opinions for many reasons including timidity, insecurity and laziness.  This reluctance has contributed to the dominant perspective of H&S as a business nuisance rather than a profitable aid to business.  My frustration with this caused me to write and speak about H&S as an unavoidable and legitimate element of business.

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OHS and Wade Needham

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?
Continue reading “OHS and Wade Needham”

Where does OHS fit?

Any assessment of ethics in relation to occupational health and safety (OHS) is worthwhile and so the release of a chapter on ethics by the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) generated some excitement. That excitement diminished somewhat as this Chapter of the Body of Knowledge (BoK) dealt with ethics in a very narrow context – “Ethics and Professional Practice“.

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