We deserve new OHS ideas, research, initiatives, strategies, epiphanies and enlightenment

This week, the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS, formerly the Safety Institute of Australia) is hosting its national conference in Melbourne, Australia. The heyday of occupational health and safety (OHS) conferences seems to have passed in Australia as, perhaps, was confirmed by the varying responses to last year’s World Congress on Safety and Health at Work. But expectations for this week’s conference are high; at least mine are.

But are those expectations too high? There is a direct competitor for OHS ears and eyes (no matter the arguments) in the same building at the same time, the Workplace Health and Safety Show. The AIHS Conference needs to work hard to retain its prominence and, most importantly, its influence. It is worth reflecting on how this messy situation came about.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Evaluating the effectiveness of OHS interventions and programs

Last month, an extraordinary document appeared – “Evaluating OH&S Interventions: A WorkSafe Victoria Intervention Evaluation Framework 2023 (2nd Ed.).” Its extraordinariness comes from its appearance with no fanfare or promotion; it is a second edition of something published in 2004 (which I cannot recollect), it has authoritative authors, and it is a document many have been asking for.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Different OHS messages to different audiences

Last week, WorkSafe Victoria held its annual Business Leaders’ Breakfast. The keynote speaker was Karen Maher, who spoke about the need for an effective and respectful workplace culture that would foster a healthy psychosocial environment. Her presentation would have been familiar to many of the occupational health and safety (OHS) and WorkSafe personnel in the audience, but it may have been revolutionary for any business leaders. Maher outlined the need for change but not necessarily how to change or the barriers to change.

The event did provide a useful Q&A session and afforded the new WorkSafe Victoria CEO, Joe Calafiore, his second public speaking event in a week.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

The Spiritualism of HR

“Trust us” is one of the riskiest phrases anyone can use. It may be even riskier to accept it. In workplaces, it is often the start of a relationship, but it can also be the start of betrayal. Part of the risk in starting any new job is that new employees must accept their introductions in good faith, and most introductions are handled by the Human Resources department but is that faith misplaced? Recently, one socialist journal from the United States (yes, the US has a socialist sub-culture …. for the moment), Jacobin, included an article about HR in its religion-themed edition (paywalled).

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

The fluctuating grey zone of compliance

The occupational health and safety (OHS) profession operates within the legislative context of “so far as is reasonably practicable“, that band of compliance, that non-prescriptive, performance-based flexibility offered to employers to encourage them to provide safe and healthy workplaces. It could be said that OHS was easier forty years ago because the compliance band was thinner, and in some cases, compliance was determined by specialist OHS inspectors on the day of the visit.

Today, that compliance band fluctuates and can be affected by community values and expectations, as shown in a recent discussion about sexual harassment at Australia’s Fair Work Commission.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

New Sexual Harassment Code is part of the workplace mental health transition

This month Safe Work Australia (SWA) released its Code of Practice – Sexual and gender-based harassment, which applies to almost all Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) jurisdictions. It is an important document for many reasons, not the least is to reduce, and hopefully to prevent, the potential for life-altering psychological harm. It is also important in the expansion of management areas traditionally managed through personnel departments to include OHS concepts and control measures.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.

Psychosocial laws may encourage political risks

In December, Australian law firm Maddocks launched its 2023 Year in Review. Two items were directly relevant to occupational health and safety (OHS) – Sexual Harassment and Psychosocial Safety – both addressed by Catherine Dunlop. The size of the challenge ahead on both these topics was shown by the Australian Financial Review on December 7, 2023:

“Fewer than half of directors are confident their companies will be able to adhere to new workplace sexual harassment standards when they come into force next week, with just one in five female directors saying their boards understand the requirements of the new regime.”

Outside of the Maddocks launch, there is also some speculation that Victoria’s proposed psychosocial regulations may never happen.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.
Concatenate Web Development
© Designed and developed by Concatenate Aust Pty Ltd