OHS tidbits from the latest Productivity Commission Report

On March 17 2023, the Australian government released the Productivity Commission’s latest 5-year Productivity Inquiry report. At well over a thousand pages, few people are going to read it to the level it deserves. Nor will I, but I have dipped into it and found a couple of important comments that relate directly to the management of occupational health and safety (OHS).

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Big consultancies sully their own nest

Large consulting firms have been getting a hammering lately. Fraud, leaking information, work-related suicides, corruption, unethical behaviour……. I bet they are nostalgic for the good old days when they were primarily auditors. There are several occupational health and safety (OHS) connections with the Big4, Big3 or Big 7. Auditing is the obvious overlap, but several recent books have identified some other strange relationships with Government that affect policy that, in turn, affect OHS. This is a brief look at one of those books – The Big Con.

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Rebuilding the “Duty TO Care”

Decades ago, the occupational health and safety (OHS) conferences had speakers regularly urging us to focus on the “H” in OHS. The “H” was often “Health”, but it was also the “Human”. OHS professionals have long acknowledged that the profession, and the OHS regulators, focussed for too long on traumatic physical injuries and less on health risks, often related to dust, or human risks associated with bullying, harassment and other psychosocial harms. Those days have gone by, but employers and institutions are yet to catch up.

Part of the reason for this lag is the intransigence of the neoliberal ideology and economics epitomised by Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Ronald Reagan in the USA, and Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard in Australia. (Australia’s neoliberalism was sneakier than in other countries and not just nationally. Jeff Kennett, I am talking about you). Neoliberalism is on the decline, although slower than it should be.

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