New laws help in the prevention of occupational asthma

Recently a public relations firm has been promoting a statement about workers’ compensation and occupational asthma in support of the Australasian Asthma Conference.  The statement was a timely reminder of the 2015 report – The Hidden Costs of Asthma.  These documents are aimed at the management of asthma rather than the prevention but, coincidentally, the Australian Government entered some legislative amendments in Parliament that will help with the prevention of this important condition.

The 

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The future of OHS under the Australian Labor Party

At Australia’s National Press Club on October 18 207, the Australian Labor Party’s Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor spoke, ostensibly on industrial relations but occupational health and safety (OHS) was mentioned.  O’Connor provided several examples of worker exploitation and casual work and then stated

“There is something really wrong when those big, household-name companies apparently feel absolutely no responsibility, or consider themselves immune from reputational risk, for exploitation of the workers on whose labour they make a vast profit. This is why at the last election, Labor promised a National Labour Hire licencing scheme. We said we would issue a licence to only those who have a clean record of complying with employment, tax and OH&S laws, and that licences would be revoked for serious misconduct.”

In the discussions about the regulation of the labour hire industry OHS has been given, comparatively, little attention so it is useful to note even the small amount of prominence granted it by O’Connor.

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Safety Differently – The Movie reviewed

One of the best elements of Sidney Dekker’s new Safety Differently documentary is that he is only in it for a few of its thirty minutes.  It is not that he has nothing to say but the expected audience for this documentary would already be familiar with Dekker’s take on Safety Differently.

This documentary provides what has been needed for the Safety Differently movement for some time  – case studies, trials and experiments.  It was always possible to understand the theory but it was difficult to see how the theory would be implemented.  Partly this was because the implication was that Safety II concepts replaced Safety I.  Rather Safety Differently is a transition from I to II and over a considerable time.

This documentary, which is free to view and released on October 10, 2017. includes three stories – one each from oil & gas, health care and retail supermarkets.  

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Measure the old, plan for the new

“What gets measured, gets done” is a common phrase in corporate-speak but needs to be treated with caution in terms of occupational health and safety (OHS).

In The Australian newspaper of October 5 2017 (paywalled) an article about remuneration and innovation includes a brief but telling discussion of the perception of OHS.

Sylvia Falzon is a director of the companies Perpetual and Regis Healthcare.  The article states that Falzon is a

“great believer that ‘what gets measured gets done”.

However, this belief has important limitations. 

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Hollnagel, Safety II and Captain Hindsight

The ideal outcome of attending a safety conference or seminar is to hear something new, some innovation that inspires, or gain a hint for a potential opportunity.  In occupational health and safety (OHS) this rarely happens.  So the most common outcome is clarification or reinforcement.  This was my experience at a Professor Erik Hollnagel seminar in Melbourne on October 3, 2017.

Hollnagel’s Safety II concept has been round for several years now and has had considerable influence on the thinking of OHS professionals, if no one else.  Safety II has generated several commercial and academic offshoots that provide hope for a more realistic and practical application of safety principles.

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