Interesting but not representative

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) released the results of its latest occupational health and safety (OHS) survey. In past surveys respondents have been trade union members. This survey was opened to non-union members, but to what extent is unclear but this has not stopped the ACTU speaking of the respondents as workers rather than workers who are all union members.

This differentiation is important. In the 1990s when union membership was much larger, the argument that the survey results were representative of Australia’s workforce was stronger although still debatable. Representation is harder to claim now with union membership being well below 20% overall and below 10% in the private sector.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.
Article locked

Log In Subscribe Help

Fence or Ambulance?

The other week Lucinda Brogden, one of Australia’s Mental Health Commissioners participated in a three day suicide prevention conference, concluding the week as a keynote speaker at an occupational health and safety (OHS) seminar. Her commitment to keep focusing on the prevention of harm made her a comfortable fit for the largely OHS audience. Hopefully her influence is big on the Australian mental health policy makers.

Brogden reminded the audience of an 1895 poem by Joseph Malins which discusses the prevention of harm through the analogy of putting a fence at the cliff edge to stop people falling rather than having an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff to collect the dead and injured. It is unlikely that Malins was thinking of workplace safety with this poem but, as a temperance activist, it is certain he was thinking about health. Regardless, the imagery is a useful and simple illustration of the advantages in the prevention of harm, and not just in relation to mental health.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.
Article locked

Log In Subscribe Help

Suicide Differently

Free Access
Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (with a signing interpreter) speaking at the National Suicide Prevention Conference

Over 600 delegates at the National Suicide Prevention conference in Melbourne in July 2019 heard one speaker almost invoke the “Safety Differently” concept to suicide prevention (Hands off, its ours, Ed.). This showed that suicide prevention approaches are maturing, but that advocates continue to operate in a public health/mental health silo.

Several speakers acknowledged that the suicide prevention strategies in Australia over the past few decades have failed to reduce the suicide rate. This has been known for some time as evident from this statement by Emeritus Professor Ian Webster in a 2017 publication “Postvention Australia Guidelines”:

“Prevention has always been part of the national suicide prevention strategy but its contribution is even more important now as some of the past initiatives have not been as effective in reducing suicide rates as we had hoped.”

Page 5
Continue reading “Suicide Differently”

Suicide prevention at Victoria’s Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System began the first of a couple of days focusing on suicide prevention by reminding the audience that there are three kinds of interventions:

  • Universal – population level wellness
  • Selective – those who have suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Indicated – those who are engaging in suicidal behaviour

Occupational health and safety (OHS) concerns about harm prevention overlap with each of these to some extent, but the approach with the most opportunity for the prevention of harm is likely to be in Universal intervention. SafetyAtWorkBlog looked for discussion of work-related harm and interventions in yesterday’s Public Hearings.

Login or subscribe to SafetyAtWorkBlog to continue reading.
Article locked

Log In Subscribe Help