Andrew Hopkins has described organisational culture as “the way we as an organisation do things around here”. The sociology of this statement is sound and the occupational health and safety (OHS) context seems to be an accepted element of safety management. But for OHS professionals to continue to advocate the importance of a safety culture it is necessary for them to be aware of how culture is being interpreted and applied elsewhere. The Australian Labor Party recently stated that the Australian banking system needs a Royal Commission because, as Senator Sam Dastyari stated:
“We’ve seen scandal after scandal. We’ve seen failure after failure and we’ve seen a banking sector and a culture develop where effectively these matters are constantly being ignored”.
In occupational health and safety (OHS), as in most things, it is possible to learn more from what is not said than what is said. Recently WorkSafe Victoria released a guidebook for employers on “Preventing and managing work-related stress”. Given the current community focus on stress, health and wellness, discussion of this document’s release has been quite muted. Part of the reason is that, in some ways, the guidebook does not fit with the contemporary health and wellness push.
WorkSafe has been publishing guidance on workplace stress and its subset, workplace bullying, for well over 20 years. It’s Stresswise publication has been a de facto reference on the hazard and the workplace bullying changes initiated by the ACTU and implemented by WorkSafe Victoria, emerged from. ACTU surveys of its members specifically on workplace stress.
Part of the significance of investigating workplace stress is that the major causes are institutional, that is, the way businesses are managed rather than with the individual’s capacity to cope. It is here that the WorkSafe guidebook conflicts with the common approaches of the wellness advocates.
There are several important lessons from a recent conviction of an occupational health and safety consultant (OHS) in South Australia for impersonating a SafeWork SA inspector on multiple occasions.
According to SafeWorkSA’s media release, Sam Narroway has been found guilty of impersonating a SafeWork South Australia Inspector and fined $A15,000. Presiding Industrial Magistrate Lieschke stated that
“In my view these are serious offences – they involved risk to the community, damage to the credibility of SafeWork SA and to professional work health safety consultants”.
According to LinkedIn and as acknowledged in the Court judgement, Sam Narroway is now the Chief Executive Officer of Australian Workplace Safety Group. Narroway has described this new company as a successful venture and indications are that he intends to restart his career.
The Australian Treasurer,