There were three books that I left off my Christmas/Summer reading list. Each of them important for my occupational health and safety (OHS) professional development and personal curiosity.
The first is Rethink – The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole. This books looks at what we think are new ideas and sees the precursors or the ideas’ previous appearances. I was attracted to this perspective because I am seeing a lot of new ideas in OHS that are familiar and similar to what has come before. Continue reading “More books on the Christmas list”
The Herald-Sun newspaper has released the final report into the mental health and suicide rate of Victorian metropolitan firefighters.
The report, authored by Dr Peter Cotton, found that the issues uncovered in the review of firefighters in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) are not dissimilar from the findings of other inquiries into emergency service organisations like the police or the ambulance service.
Australia’s emergency services have had several reviews into accusations of workplace bullying, harassment, mental health or suicides. Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) is the latest to undergo this type of review but the United Firefighters Union (UFU) is not happy about the release of the final report, which was due out today. If the final report is consistent, a dysfunctional safety culture will be found.
According to a report in the ABC news website, the review was
“…headed by clinical psychologist Dr Peter Cotton, who wrote a similar report for Victoria Police.” [link added]
SafetyAtWorkBlog readers may recall that an earlier article on psychologically healthy workplaces included this mention of Dr Cotton
“[Dr Chris] Stevens is not blind to the shortcomings of some of the trends in the area of psychologically healthy workplaces. He agreed that the modern workplaces and workers are subject to over-diagnosis of mental health issues and paraphrased some of the work of Dr Peter Cotton who estimated around 30% of workers compensation claims for psychological injury relate to low morale and not psychiatric diagnosis.”
Continue reading “Work-related suicides in another militarily-structured organisation”
Episode 6 of the Cabbage Salad and Safety podcast is now available with the discussion centring on drugs and alcohol issues at work. For those looking for information on drug and alcohol testing, this episode is not for you. We thought that the testing issue is dealt with in many workplaces through legislative and regulatory matters and you have to comply with what you have to comply. Continue reading “Cabbage Salad and Drugs”
Australian workplace mental health advocates often seem to shy away from discussions of suicide, perhaps because suicides are not a regular occurrence at work or because work-related suicide remains stigmatised. To better understand this overlap between suicide and mental health, and the working environment, it may be useful to look at the Japanese experience where work-related suicides, specifically karoshi, seems to have occurred before the appearance or recognition of mental ill-health and depression.
Recently the BBC released a series of broadcasts and podcasts looking at mental health issues. The first episode discussed “Depression in Japan”. The whole series Borders of Sanity will be of interest to mental health students and professionals but the Japanese episode reinforces that the recognition and treatment of depression is not the same around the world. The appearance of depression in Japan is a very recent occurrence and shows the links between mental health and culture, particularly as it relates to the role of work, our place in work and our relationships with our bosses.
Japan has a unique approach to work and the relationships within work. Some of the practices have been exported to other countries as we have seen in companies like Toyota but the perception of workload, diligence, commitment and loyalty has some echoes in Western workplaces.
Karoshi has been reported on in the West many times before, often as a peculiar quirk of the Orient but the recent BBC podcast is less about suicide and more about depression and mental health. The West has a long tradition of psychoanalysis where stress, anxiety and depression have been defined, refined and integrated into our cultures. This is still in its early stages in Japan and the full podcast is a fascinating counterpoint to the Western perception of workplace mental health.
Law firms have been producing newsletters and case summaries for a long time. Ostensibly these are for marketing purposes but occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals have benefited from these potted histories and examinations, even though the perspectives are often limited to the legal precedents. Over the last few years though, law firms have been…
It has been my intention for many years to establish a conversational podcast with a workplace safety lawyer. The opportunity to pitch the idea occurred earlier this year and the first episode of Cabbage Salad and Safety is now available.
Siobhan Flores-Walsh of Corrs Chambers Westgarth (pictured right with the author) was the lucky lawyer and she has been enormously supportive also providing the recording equipment, personnel and opportunity. Continue reading ““Cabbage Salad and Safety” podcast launched”
Recently, through LinkedIn, a Human Resources (HR) professional wrote an article that busted some myths about workplace bullying. It is a useful article but also illustrates that HR and occupational health and safety (OHS) still have some way to go before providing a coordinated approach to workplace bullying and the mental health issues that contribute to the psychosocial hazard.
Continue reading “Workplace Bullying needs a broad and integrated approach”
It seems to be increasingly important for occupational health and safety (OHS) to focus on the human and the humanity of the worker but this seems out of touch with the world of Human Resources (HR) and recruitment that is increasingly being dominated by impersonal algorithms. Recently BBC’s Global Business program looked at Recruitment By Algorithm.
According to Global Business, recruitment assesses the “fit” of a job applicant through assessments undertaken by computer programs and algorithms. This is occurring at the same time as OHS professionals are increasingly advocating the importance of a “safety culture” even though safety culture is difficult to define, and some deny it exists. There seems to be an inherent conflict in the process of recruiting safe workers. Continue reading “Could safety by algorithms be next?”