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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Mixed messages in a new world – does OHS fit?

There has been much discussion about mixed messages in relation to the COVID19 coronavirus pandemic. Occupational health and safety (OHS) is still trying to adjust to the new working environment and needs to be careful it does not contribute to the confusion that mixed messages is creating.

Some of the mix comes from the growth in influence of alternative information and media sources linked to the Internet. Some is concerned with the declining trust the community has in government and private institutions. Some more may have come from the complacency of the OHS profession and community.

Below is an example of the mixed message problem when OHS is jumbled up with other considerations, even though one article says that OHS has become everything.

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The next gig job must be safer and healthier

A man in different kind of occupations. Credit:
bowie15

A lot of focus is currently on casual workers as their jobs disappear due to the responses to the COVID19 coronavirus. Australia has around 2.6 million of them and there are many more workers who may be classified as Part Time but operate on uncertain rosters and are, in reality, as precarious as casual employees. Occupational health and safety (OHS) is struggling to address the hazards presented by modern variations of precarious work, such as gig economy workers, because it, and government economic and employment policy more generally, is structured on the assumption of Full Time Employment (FTE) with work occurring mainly from nine to five, on weekdays with weekends off.

Consideration of precarious worker OHS may seem a lesser priority at the moment as many of us are quarantined or quarantine by choice but at some point, hopefully, within the next twelve months, business will resume. However, that business model and structure is unlikely to be the same. Indeed, it should not be same as the risk profile for all businesses and the community generally has changed. So, let’s have a look at some of the recent thinking about precarious work and the OHS risks so that we can build a better, safer model.

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We are now our grandparents – fearful but adaptive

This blog transitioned from a self-published magazine almost 12 years ago. In 2003, the magazine published an edition focussing on the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ) outbreak which includes a long article by Peter Sandman and Jody Lanard on epidemics and fear, an emotion that many of us are feeling in these uncertain times. The full magazine is available for subscribers below.

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Young workers don’t know their OHS rights or their employer’s duty of care – Duh!

On March 10 2020, the Andrews Labor Government and the Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, released a media statement about a “social experiment” involving the safety of young workers, in response to the fact that “about 50 young workers are injured every week”.

The statement said that the campaign is

“… warning employers to protect young workers and making sure young Victorians are aware of their rights through a powerful new campaign …..
[and]
“…is part of a social experiment which saw young workers aged 18-25 asked to participate in a mock job information session for a research company.”

The significant finding was that

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