In March 2019, the Northern Territory government released its “Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety in the Northern Territory”. This report was written by Tim Lyons who reviewed the Queensland work health and safety (WHS) Laws not so long ago. Lyons is creating a career path as sustainable as Alan Clayton who seems to have reviewed all the workers’ compensation systems in the Asia Pacific!
There are many similarities between the two reports which is not surprising – same Model WHS laws, same reviewer….. Yes, Industrial Manslaughter laws were recommended but this is almost a pro forma recommendation at the moment, as it has been supported by at least two State governments, recommended in a Senate inquiry into industrial deaths and pragmatically recommended by the Boland Review. In many ways these WHS-related reviews are feeding off each other.
The occupational health and safety (OHS) profession is being affected by demographic changes as much as any other profession. Younger people seem to have a very different expectation on how to interpret and apply OHS, and older people are tired of being lectured to, and this is putting pressure on those who organise events, seminars and conferences and those who mentor and educate in a range of ways.
Some organisations and conferences are responding by reconfiguring the provision of information away from the lecture format of an expert to a mix of communication methods. This blog has written about some of those that occurred in the last two years. These conferences are less academic than in earlier days. Rarely is a conference accompanied by a handbook of research-based conference papers; some provide no papers at all and slideshows delivered a fortnight after the event are devoid of context and next to useless.
Continue reading “In order to grow, OHS needs economists, philosophers, ethicists and gender specialists”
All Australian businesses are experiencing disruption. Some are embracing this as Change, but not enough. As occupational health and safety (OHS) is an unavoidable part of running a business, it is being similarly disrupted. So what can one do? I chose to read a short book called “On Disruption”. I purchased it because of the title and I had recently shared the media room at the ALP National Conference with the author, Katherine Murphy. That the book wasn’t about OHS but about the disruption experienced by journalism, newspaper publishing and mainstream media, didn’t bother me as, being a blogger, it should still be of interest either way.
And it was. But what was surprising were the parallels between journalism and OHS. I shouldn’t have been surprised as both are, or claim to be, professions.
One of the fascinating elements of this year’s National Comcare conference is the conflict between the Human Resources (HR) approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers compensation, and the OHS approach to psychosocial hazards. This is not the fault of Comcare as the audience is a peculiar mix of both professions.
The difference was on display when some presenters focused on the post-incident care and, almost entirely, on interventions on the individual. Other presenters focused on the prevention of physical and psychological injuries – the OHS approach. The former seemed warmly embraced by the HR professionals. There were other speakers, or parts of their presentations, where prevention was almost mentioned as an afterthought and even then omitting references to their organisation’s own OHS publications.
There has always been a structural and ideological separation of the professions
ASHPA, the Australian Safety and Health Professional Associations has been quiet for a while but sponsored La Trobe University to undertake some research into the future of work and its impacts on occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals, hygienists, ergonomists and others. It is an interesting insight into the thoughts and perspectives of safety and health professionals but it also cries out for interpretation and analysis.
The report, not yet available online, is based on the responses of 733 safety and health professionals to an online survey. The statistical profile of the profession in Australia is useful and the key findings