Can Australia Post’s executives survive the most recent allegations?

Australia Post features regularly in the mainstream press.  Recently, the media and Government discussed the pay packet of its Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Fahour, but a safety management issue has been bubbling along for some time and reappeared this morning in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) “Australia post investigated over alleged manipulation of injury rate for bonuses” ($paywall).

The AFR writes that

“Comcare is investigating Australia Post over allegations that some senior managers manipulated data on injured employees’ absences from work to meet key performance indicators and secure hefty bonuses.”

This is allegedly done by

  • “delaying injury claims,
  • recording workers on sick leave when they are really absent on injury, and
  • paying for medical expenses in lieu of workers lodging compensation claims.”

Continue reading “Can Australia Post’s executives survive the most recent allegations?”

Gender, violence, Batty, Hulls and business preparedness

Recently the Victorian Women Lawyers conducted a seminar into the outcomes of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence.  SafetyAtWorkBlog attended even though the topic seems, initially, to have a tenuous link to occupational health and safety (OHS).  Family violence is relevant to OHS through its influence on workplace mental ill-health, productivity and the need for cultural…

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WorkSafe and politicians continue to confuse

On March 4, 2016 WorkSafe Victoria released a media statement with the headline:

“WorkSafe announces new safety record in half-year results”

The headline was reinforced (or the other way round) in the body of the statement with

“The rate of injuries in Victorian workplaces has reached a new record low, according to the half-yearly results released yesterday by WorkSafe Victoria.”

But then states that

“As of 31 December 2015 there were 7 claims per million hours worked (MHW) in Victorian workplaces, compared to 7.34 claims recorded at the end of 2014/15 – a fall of 4.6 per cent.”

So what is it – a record low number of injuries or a record low number of workers’ compensation claims?

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OHS cost research needs to stretch itself

Cover of 2016 WSI (1)The annual workplace safety report Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety always gets a good deal of mainstream media attention.  It deserves some of this attention as it has provided sound information on work-related injuries and injury costs for many years but it is now looking dated as it is not keeping up with current research in to the business case for safety, the move to leading indicators and the incorporation of psychosocial injuries (which are also covered by workers compensation). Continue reading “OHS cost research needs to stretch itself”

Important research into workplace cyber-bullying

Last week several Australian news sites reported on a new thesis about public servants and cyber-bullying which is discussed in detail below. The reports are based mostly on a media release about the research issued by Queensland University of Technology (QUT).  What caught my eye was the statement in the one media report that the researcher, Dr Felicity Lawrence,

“…said traditional workplace bullying already cost the nation about $36 billion a year, “so the cost of cyber bullying on productivity could be profound”.

Not true.  In the QUT statement, Lawrence stated

“Traditional workplace bullying costs the national economy up to $36 billion each year, so the cost of cyberbullying on productivity could be profound,…”

“up to” vs “about? This differentiation is important because the lack of clarity creates OHS myths and these myths can misinform policy priorities and public understanding of workplace hazards.

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Annual Reports can encourage SafeWash!

Annual ReportsCover of 1-s2.0-S0925753515002945-main are crucial corporate documents that should reflect the financial and organisational health and achievements of a company.  Only recently, in Australia, have Annual Reports been assessed for indications of occupational health and safety (OHS) other than fatalities.  Some of that analysis of injury data has appeared in an article in the Safety Science journal entitled “Safewash! Risk attenuation and the (Mis)reporting of corporate safety performance to investors” – an article that deserves careful consideration. Continue reading “Annual Reports can encourage SafeWash!”

Submission on Labour Hire disappoints on OHS

cover of Ai_Group_LabourHireandInsecureWork__November 2015_Final2The public submission phase for the Victorian Government’s inquiry into labour hire and insecure work closed last week.  Public hearings have occurred this week and will continue in February 2016. One industry association, the Australian Industry Group has released its submission.  Its discussion  of occupational health and safety (OHS) of labour hire workers and suppliers is very disappointing.

Representing Members

The AiGroup says, in its submission that

“The interests of both groups [labour hire companies and users of labour hire], as well as the interests of the broader community, are best protected by ensuring that a competitive market is maintained for the provision of labour hire services, and that impediments to competition are removed.” (page 4)

It could be argued that the competitive market has allowed unscrupulous labour hire suppliers to succeed as they have been offering the cheapest labour.  These suppliers have succeeded, mostly, because there is a ready market for opportunities to maximise profit by reducing the legal rights of workers.  A competitive market may help fix the problem but it is also a problem that it helped create. Continue reading “Submission on Labour Hire disappoints on OHS”

Missed lessons from work-related traffic incidents

Cover of Work-related-fatalities-involving-trucksIn early 2014 a truck driver drove his vehicle into an intersection, collided with a car resulting in the death of four out of five members of one family. The truck driver, Jobandeep Gill, has been sentenced to 10 years jail.  Video of the incident site shows a company name on the side of the van.  It is not possible to determine who Gill was driving for or what his employment status was but, regardless of this, it seems a work vehicle was involved in the death of four people, and therefore occupational safety laws (OHS) may have been broken.

It is accepted by OHS regulators that a truck is a workplace for the driver and that OHS responsibilities of all workers include

“… take reasonable care for the health and safety of persons who may be affected by the employee’s acts or omissions at a workplace…” (Section 25 of the Victorian OHS Act 2004)

On 25 November 2015, Dr Rwth Stuckey stated at an ISCRR seminar that:

“WRR (work related road) crashes [are the] leading cause of traumatic work-related fatality & injury in most westernised countries.”

So why don’t OHS regulators follow-up WRR crashes by interviewing the truck owners or the employers of the drivers?  Perhaps statistics don’t support Dr Stuckey?

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OHS benefits of motion sensors and contemporary anthropometry

Several years ago, at a workshop over the development of the next Australian National Strategy for occupational health and safety (OHS), participants were asked to forecast an issue that would appear or be useful in the next decade.  I suggested sub-dermal implants that would record or transmit real-time health data.  My suggestion was received with laughter and a little bit of horror.

The sub-dermal implants for OHS monitoring are yet to occur but the electronic collation of important health data has progressed to a high level of relevance. This not only involves measuring body stresses but the bodies themselves. Continue reading “OHS benefits of motion sensors and contemporary anthropometry”

More care needed in discussing workplace mental health and mental illness

Writing about workplace mental health is a tricky task.  An article recently posted to Business News Western Australia shows how tricky it can be and how mental health can be misinterpreted as mental illness.

The headline, “Are you one of the 20% of workers that will experience a mental health issue?” clearly refers to workers but the first sentence of the article does not.  “Australian adults” are not all “workers”.

Out of the total population of around 24 million Australians, Wikipedia estimates the working-age population of Australia (15 – 64 years) at round 67% (16 million, approximately). If we apply these statistics to the headline, there are 3.2 million workers who “will experience a mental health issue”. But is this annually, over one’s working life or over a lifetime? The article does not say.

Not only are the statistics messy, so is the terminology.

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