More management myths busted

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is rife with ideas that refuse to die even though they are not supported by evidence. OHS management is dominated by a belief that Executive Leadership is either the answer or the first place to start change. Leadership and OHS are dangerously intertwined. Perhaps an assessment of Zombie Leadership is required. Some recent Australian research will help.

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The normalisation of quad bike safety

Segway has made a push into the Australian quad bike market, helping to fill the gap left by some vehicle manufacturers who would not accept safety improvements to their quad bikes. Prominent Australian agricultural newspaper, The Weekly Times, reviewed the latest Segway quad bike models. Rider safety was not mentioned specifically in the review, but it was visibly present in the accompanying image and reinforced by Segway’s video media relelase.

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Can we laugh at workplace health and safety?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) has never had a profile as high as that of the environmental protection movement. OHS has never had a single, focused advocate like Greenpeace to make it visible. OHS activists do not hang banners off Tower Bridge or throw eggs at politicians (yet). One of the characteristics shared by OHS and environmentalists is the lack of comedy. An existential crisis like climate change is hard to laugh about, just as workers are dying, but some would argue that such black comedy could be productive and promotional. A recent show on the BBC World Service, The Climate Question, looked at environmental humour, but there are OHS parallels.

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Calculate the cost of your overwork

Long working hours have been identified as a major contributor to poor workplace mental health. International benchmarks have been identified as tipping points for mental health. A local Australian initiative to highlight the risks associated with overwork is Go Home on Time Day, which The Australia Institute supports.

Fewer companies than when the day started in 2009 seem to be supporting and promoting the day in their wellbeing calendars. Perhaps because the day identifies the shameful fact that employers will not stop workers from working long hours “if the workers choose to” even though the evidence is that the practice is harmful.

Its working hours calculator is a major part of the Go Home on Time Day initiative.

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Leadership and Culture confusion is self-inflicted

Every occupational health and safety (OHS) conference over the last twenty years seems to have revolved around the twin concepts of culture and leadership. The fascination with these concepts deserves analysis as they are confusing, and sometimes conflicting, and this is unhelpful for those in the lower or middle order of the management structures who are trying to affect change.

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A transport court case relevant to all managers and employers

In November 2023, Australia’s National Heavy Vehicle Regulator released a “case learning” about a successful prosecution and sentence that the NHVR described as

“One of the most serious examples of a breach under the HVNL [Heavy Vehicle National Laws]”

The seriousness of the breach is perhaps reflected in the fine of A$2.3 million.

It is a significant case and a prosecution with lessons for managers and employers well outside the transport sector. In fact, the NHVR’s “Key takeaways for executives” could form the basis of a solid and productive business management system.

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Cultural and operational shortcomings in white-collar work

Long working hours and the billable hours structure received some attention in the prominent business newspaper. the Australian Financial Review, on November 11,2023. Unsurprisingly the article, by Edmund Tadros, about former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick has garnered attention in the business social media. The article reinforces the unsafe nature of the dominant management practices in white-collar workplaces.

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