If you don’t sound the alarm, who will?

Last week the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) National Conference contained some excellent speakers and one or two stinkers. (I will not be reporting on the last speaker of the conference, who spent his first ten minutes “roasting”. i.e. insulting the delegates!) Safe Work Australia’s Marie Boland was an important and informative speaker who nudged the occupational health and safety profession to be more active.

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OHS needs to face some moral questions

Regular readers may have noticed that I want to push the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession to think deeper and more broadly about their usually chosen career’s political and socio-economic context. The reasons for OHS’ overall lack of success in making work and workplaces safer and healthier are not only within those locations and activities but also in the limitations that many OHS people place on themselves.

More and more, I look outside the existing OHS research and trends for explanations of why OHS is treated shabbily by employers and corporations and, sometimes, the government. A new book on Growth by Daniel Susskind is helping in this quest. Below is an extract from the book that, I think, helps explain some of OHS’ predicament.

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We deserve new OHS ideas, research, initiatives, strategies, epiphanies and enlightenment

This week, the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS, formerly the Safety Institute of Australia) is hosting its national conference in Melbourne, Australia. The heyday of occupational health and safety (OHS) conferences seems to have passed in Australia as, perhaps, was confirmed by the varying responses to last year’s World Congress on Safety and Health at Work. But expectations for this week’s conference are high; at least mine are.

But are those expectations too high? There is a direct competitor for OHS ears and eyes (no matter the arguments) in the same building at the same time, the Workplace Health and Safety Show. The AIHS Conference needs to work hard to retain its prominence and, most importantly, its influence. It is worth reflecting on how this messy situation came about.

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Evaluating the effectiveness of OHS interventions and programs

Last month, an extraordinary document appeared – “Evaluating OH&S Interventions: A WorkSafe Victoria Intervention Evaluation Framework 2023 (2nd Ed.).” Its extraordinariness comes from its appearance with no fanfare or promotion; it is a second edition of something published in 2004 (which I cannot recollect), it has authoritative authors, and it is a document many have been asking for.

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Hazard over Harm?

The Australian Institute of Health and Safety has been dropping new chapters of its Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Body of Knowledge for many years. The latest revised chapter is titled “Hazard as a Concept“. This process is a good way of keeping some OHS information fresh, but it could be fresher and have a broader knowledge base or even greater engagement with OHS professionals.

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WHO says burnout is occupational, but at least one psychologist says WHO is wrong

The cover story of the February 2024 edition of Psychology Today is less a story than a collection of short pieces on mental health and burnout. This blog may seem unfairly critical of much of the psychological discussion on burnout but this is largely because the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined burnout as an occupational phenomenon and “is not classified as a medical condition”. The popular literature on mental health and its workplace context almost entirely overlooks these two elements – a literature that is often the first destination for people trying to understand their workplace distress. Sometimes, popular literature is unhelpful.

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