We are now our grandparents – fearful but adaptive

This blog transitioned from a self-published magazine almost 12 years ago. In 2003, the magazine published an edition focussing on the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ) outbreak which includes a long article by Peter Sandman and Jody Lanard on epidemics and fear, an emotion that many of us are feeling in these uncertain times. The full magazine is available for subscribers below.

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“…the first thing you are going to want to do is organise the earliest survivors… into delivery people”

In 2005 I was able to interview prominent risk communicator, Peter Sandman. It was a time of pandemic threats from Avian Influenza, or “Bird Flu”, and we talked about pandemics, their complications and their management. The virus situation has progressed enormously from 2005 to today’s announcement by the World Health Organisation of a coronavirus pandemic but I provide access to this interview to offer a different and historical perspective on the current outbreak of coronavirus. I also had to include my tips for managing coronavirus in Australian workplaces.

Of most interest and relevance, perhaps, is this statement from Peter Sandman:

“If you really think there is going to be a severe pandemic, the first thing you are going to want to do is organise the earliest survivors, the people who get the flu and don’t die, into delivery people. Then they can deliver food and fuel and everything people need so that everyone else can stay home .”

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New Zealand leads on wellbeing

A couple of months ago, SafetyAtWorkBlog mentioned New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget. Last week a representative of the NZ Treasury, Ruth Shinoda, spoke about it from direct experience in Melbourne at the 7th Global Healthy Workplace Summit. The Wellbeing Budget and a complimentary Living Standard Framework provide important contrasts to how Australia is valuing the healthy and safety of its citizens and workers.

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Peter Sandman interview in the aftermath of 9/11

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In November 2001, prominent risk communicator, Peter Sandman, examined the 9/11 attacks in a long article trying to clarify the impact and the context of the attacks.  Shortly after the attacks I had the chance to interview Peter Sandman for the online magazine I was then publishing, safetyATWORK.  Below is the text of that 2001 interview.

“SAW: As a resident of New Jersey and a risk communicator, what effect has the September 11 attacks had?

PS: I was very lucky. I live a sufficient distance away, that neither I nor anyone really close to me was lost. But lots of people close to people close to me were lost. Everybody in this part of the country is one or two steps removed from someone who died that day. But, professionally, I’m trying to think through, as I assume anybody in risk communication would be trying to think through what we can say to our countrymen and countrywomen about living in a dangerous world. This is obviously a situation where the outrage is entirely justified. The last thing I want to be doing is telling people they ought not to be outraged. But it’s also a situation where the hazard is serious. Most of my work is in either a high-outrage low-hazard situation, where the risk communication job is to reduce the outrage, calm people down; or a high-hazard low-outrage situation, where the job is to increase the outrage, get people to protect themselves. September 11 and its aftermath have to be described as high-hazard high-outrage. Neither paradigm works. And yet clearly the message to people has got to be you need to live your life. You need to take what precautions you can take and recognise that you’re not going to be completely safe and live your life anyway. You need to get on aeroplanes, and go to ball games. You need to go into big cities. I think in the months ahead people like me are going to be trying to figure out how to say that and say it honestly and honourably and credibly to a population that desperately needs to hear it and understand it. Continue reading “Peter Sandman interview in the aftermath of 9/11”

Peter Sandman in Australia

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On 22 September 2010, Dr Peter Sandman will be conducting a workshop in Sydney Australia entitled Precaution Advocacy – Risk Communication for Occupational Health and Safety and presented by the  NSW Minerals Council OHS Workshop  .

The NSW Minerals Council says

“This is a rare opportunity to hear from such a world renowned expert in crisis communication, precautionary advocacy, risk communication and outrage management.”

Having corresponded with Peter for many years and having interviewed him for a couple of hours several years back  I can say that I learned much (poor quality audio available HERE).  If I was in Sydney, this would be a must-attend event.  More information on the Sandman workshop is available by emailing the organiser.

For those who have not been exposed to Peter’s lectures and writings, he has a series of articles concerning BP’s Gulf of Mexico problems that are instructive.

Kevin Jones