Some OHS webinars are much better than others

The Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety and Health (BROSH) group conducted an online seminar on March 31, 2002 at which Tracey Browne of the Australian Industry Group (AIGroup) spoke. The content was very good, and the format worked even though many people are still trying to acclimatise to online meetings and the muting of microphones.

Browne provided a general update on managing occupational health and safety (OHS) during the COVID19 pandemic disruption but there were a couple of notable contributions.

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Safe Work Australia’s COVID19 guidance

In mid-March, pandemic advice from occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators was assessed with the generic guidance from WorkSafe Victoria being praised. Many changes to workplaces have occurred since then and Safe Work Australia (SWA) has caught up with the demand for industry-specific guidance on managing work in this pandemic. SWA’s advice is very good and is discussed below.

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Safety In Design to be included in new digital construction research

In March 2020, several Victorian universities and others were proud to announce their being provided government grants to

“…. transform how buildings are designed and manufactured in Australia”.

Given that safety in Design of buildings has been an ongoing initiative for many years, several questions on this topic were sent through to the Interim CEO of Building 4.0 CRC, Monash University Professor Mathew Aitchison. Below is the response.

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Safety opportunity from calamity

Australia is starting to settle into a state of stability as the various restrictions on life and work become more consistent. This has also allowed for some to start thinking about the recovery phase – the “bridge”, the awakening, whatever one wants to call it – to reconsider what we think of work and workplaces and our expectations are for the future. Do we resurrect the BC (Before COVID19) employment and economic models or work differently? There is an opportunity to steer work and business into a more sustainable direction that reduces physical and psychosocial harm and regains productivity and profitability. The structures, models and criteria already exist.

And, perhaps, we should incorporate the values recommended by actor, Matthew McConaughey.

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The challenge of preventing harm beyond just “primary prevention”

Fay Calderone’s article in HRDaily on workplace sexual harassment and her responses to some questions from SafetyAtWorkBlog illustrate several points of difference between the usual Legal/HR approach to the management and prevention of workplace risks and the application of the occupational health and safety (OHS) approach. These points of difference are discussed below.

Leadership discussion, policies and training

The prevention of harm is a core principle of occupational health and safety. OHS professionals strive to eliminate hazards at the earliest opportunity and apply the precautionary principle as often as possible. Prevention is aimed at detecting early indications or precursors of hazards, such as those occurring in a Near Miss.

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