OHS is not all about workers compensation data

Every couple of months, after the release of official workplace fatality figures and serious injury, the Australian media reports the three most dangerous industries as Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry.  The latest article appeared in Australia’s Fairfax Media on 17 January 2018.  It is good that occupational health and safety (OHS) is gaining attention.  When so little media attention is given, any publicity is useful.

However this type of article also presents some negatives, including that it may be only representing 60% of all workplace fatalities and serious injuries.

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Sexual harassment may be an OHS issue but what priority should it receive?

One online news site in Australia has suggested that sexual harassment is an occupational health and safety (OHS) issue.  At first blush, it should be.  Sexual harassment can create mental ill-health and can certainly be harmful. But from the early days of discussions about workplace bullying and occupational violence in Australia, sexual harassment has been consciously excluded from OHS.

Is It or Isn’t It?

Some of the best discussion on bullying, harassment and violence was written by Dr Clare Mayhew for the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2000.  These included a practical handbook on prevention. (It’s peculiar that some of the most perceptive works on OHS occur outside the OHS profession.  Well perhaps not so surprising.)  In the handbook, Mayhew points out that harassment has always been an element of workplace bullying but excludes sexual harassment from her discussion:

“The Australian Institution of Criminology believes that prevention, rather than post-incident reaction, is the key to improved outcomes. However, the handbook needs to be adapted specifically to each organisation for best results. The discussions exclude activity that could be described as sexual harassment, which is extensively dealt with elsewhere.” (page 1)

This position is reflective of the OHS literature yet, on reflection, this position may have been wrong for it contributed to a fractured approach to managing workplace psychosocial hazards. 

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Review into WorkSafe Victoria released at Christmas

In the middle of 2017 SafetyAtWorkBlog asked why the Victorian Government was slow in releasing the report of an independent review into its occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator, WorkSafe.  Victorians have received a Christmas present with the release of the report of the  Independent Review of Occupational Health and Safety Compliance and Enforcement in Victoria and the Government response.

In Principle

According to the Minister for Finance Robin Scott’s media release, dated 18 December 2017,

“The review was a Labor Government election commitment and made 22 recommendations – all of which the Government supports in principle.” (emphasis added)

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Action demanded on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry

On 12 December 2017, part of Australia’s screen and television industry held a forum in Sydney about sexual harassment in the sector and what could be done to reduce this workplace hazard. This initiative occurred a day before an open letter was published about sexual harassment in the music industry.  There is a momentum for change on sexual harassment in the workplace, but it is at risk of resulting in a fragmented approach which will generate turf wars, confusion and, ultimately, ineffectiveness.

The

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Suicide and OHS media campaigns should achieve tangible outcomes

Don’t jump rock cliff at Sydney, Australia

The benefits of advertising are notoriously difficult to quantify unless there is a specific product being promoted.  Advertising about occupational health and safety (OHS) is usually measured in the level of awareness of the viewers with questions such as

  • Are you aware of WorkSafe?
  • What does WorkSafe do?
  • When we mention WorkSafe to you, what do you think of?

But as with wellbeing initiatives, awareness does not always, some would say rarely, generate action; and action that affects real change.

Recently several Australian researchers looked at some of the existing studies around media campaigns on the prevention of

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