Who reads the Robens Report and who will write the next one?

“Every year something like 1,000 people are killed at their work in this country. Every year about half a million suffer injuries in varying degrees of severity. 23 million working days are lost annually on account of industrial injury and disease.”

The existence of this statement is of no surprise to occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals. Similar statements are made all the time.  The sad surprise of this quote is that it appeared in 1972 on page 1 of the Safety and Health at Work – Report of the Committee 1970-72, otherwise know as the Robens Report.

Perhaps it is time to begin contemplating what OHS fundamentals we should apply in the next generation of workplace safety health and wellbeing laws ?

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Hyperbole over new OHS Standard

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The hyperbole about ISO45001 keeps coming now that the International Standard for Occupational Health and Management Systems has been finalised and due for publication on March 18 2018.

On February 1 2018, Vic Toy, chair of the US technical advisory group is quoted in EHS Today:

“ISO45001 is one of the most significant developments in workplace safety over the past 50 years, presenting an opportunity to move the needle on reducing occupational health and safety risks…..

The goal was to create a widely accepted standard that can produce a highly effective safety and health management system for an increasingly interconnected world, regardless of an organisation’s size, location, supply chains or nature of work.  It becomes a minimum standard of practice, and a good one at that.”

ISO45001 does have great potential for change but primarily in those countries that have no such standard already and where OHS laws are under-developed or poorly enforced. Continue reading “Hyperbole over new OHS Standard”

Out of Range – Work Risks of Wildlife Protection Officers

by Melody Kemp

 It was nine at night and the shooters had the advantage of superior fire power and night vision goggles …. We stood no chance. Two friends were killed…”

Source: Melody Kemp

David Paklett, a Wildlife Ranger working in Tanzania pulled up his trouser leg and showed me an ugly red scar that looked a bit like an alien pasted to his skin. It was 2013. We were in Spain’s ancient university town of Salamanca, at WILD 10, a sporadic gathering of wilderness and conservation specialists.  He told me how the year before, he and his colleagues had been in a John Woo style shoot out with Vietnamese poachers. The Vietnamese were overhead in a helicopter, firing at them with automatic rifles. ‘It was nine at night and the shooters had the advantage of superior fire power and night vision goggles.’

His words have stayed with me.

‘We stood no chance. Two friends were killed, and I got this.’ When I looked up, his eyes had the look of someone who was looking back with horror. ‘Did you ever talk about that night with anyone?’ I asked sipping a Rioja red. ‘Who is there to tell?’ David grimaced. ‘It’s part of the job. The game has changed. The Chinese are arming these guys and making sure they get away with the kill. The forces behind them are so powerful and we have no resources.’

Lao Rangers in the Annamite mountain range report the same fear according to

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The reality is all about perception

Occupational health and safety (OHS) policy makers are keen on making decisions based on evidence.  But evidence seems hard to get, for many reasons.

Some people, including those in workplace relations and OHS, often fill the evidence gap with “anecdotal evidence”.  Frequently people being interviewed are asked for evidence to substantiate their claims and respond that “anecdotally” there is a problem yet there is no sample size for this evidence, there is no clarity or definition of the incident or issue – it is simply “what I heard” or “what I’ve been told”.  Using anecdotal evidence is okay as long as its inherent uncertainty is acknowledged and it is not used as a basis for substantial change.

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