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.
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 .”
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.
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.
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”
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.
In November 2009, Peter Sandman delivered the Berreth Lecture at the annual conference of the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). Significantly Sandman was asked not to present on risk communication but about his experiences in risk communication and how he came to prominence in the field.
The NPHIC has made the 65-minute video of his lecture available on-line. Sandman has the audio available through his website. The speech notes are also available but, as is his wont, Sandman diverges from the “script” frequently.
Some people have mentioned to me that they find blogs a mysterious thing. It’s a media that is gaining attention from mainstream media, in fact, most mainstream media have embraced blogging to supplement the “official” media content in newspapers, journals and on television. Some blogs have become an important source of news and commentary feeding into the mainstream media.
SafetyAtWorkBlog does not provide all the safety news that is happening in Australia or elsewhere. In fact nobody is. But what we can do is select those items of news that we think have a broad appeal to safety professionals.
Also, in Australia, there are only a handful of writers and journalists who specialize in writing on OHS issues and there are many events, conferences, seminars, talks, podcasts, books and other information sources that fall under the radar of mainstream media. It is in this niche that SafetyAtWorkBlog exists.
Blogs were original a web-based log or a web diary where people can put down their thoughts of the day. But they have become so much more and the feature that is most overlooked by readers is the capacity to comment on the articles posted to a blog.
There is some resemblance to “Letters to the Editor” in traditional media where issues can be raised but, more importantly, readers can comment on the news of the day or the thoughts of columnists, and can clarify inaccurate opinions.
The ability to respond to articles is very important to SafetyAtWorkBlog because we do not know everything about our profession. OHS is a discipline that continues to evolve just as rapidly as new hazards appear. The expert who says they know everything is a fool, the smart professional learns all the time. That is one reason why people read SafetyAtWorkBlog but the blog can be so much better when readers provide their own opinions, particularly if what is said in the blog is wrong in some way.
The best example of reader comments in this blog was the response from Peter Sandman to a piece on a book by Cass Sunstein. Sandman says
“…a few comments in the review, though flattering to me, are misleading about Sunstein.”
He goes on to list the article’s shortcomings. One comment from Sandman was then disputed by another reader, Thomas Durkin.
This dialogue showed a terrific level of opinion and provides a better understanding of Sunstein and his place in US politics and government regulation than the solitary review that generated the comments.
SafetyAtWorkBlog is not an OHS news service, one can get that from hundreds of news aggregators (the bane of Rupert Murdoch) on the web. SafetyAtWorkBlog provides commentary and opinion on things that are happening in the OHS world. If the opinion is wrong or the logic has severe shortcomings or the content is inaccurate, blogs provide the opportunity to correct the information or to balance the opinion.
We have ALWAYS encouraged people to comment on articles we post. If we can start a debate or help clarify an OHS concept, that’s great. But if you have something to say about what we say, email it in or post a comment. Unless it is defamatory or nasty or rude, it will be included and any points made will be genuinely considered and pondered on.