Business Bullshit – and how this relates to workplace health and safety

This is an edited version of my presentation to delegates at the inaugural NSW Regional Safety Conference & Expo in Newcastle, Australia on March 17, 2018.

The current approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) is that we shouldn’t separate it from business operations. One of the motivations for achieving success in business is to build a strong organisational culture that integrates safety.

Companies often start this task by developing Mission Statements or Pledges.  Quite often these are done by talking to a lot of different people in the organisation.  And I don’t know of any mission statement that hasn’t been already run through Legal and Marketing – they don’t always get run through Safety.  What happens is that these statements can become more florid and more inexact, and more unclear.  Some of them descend into Business Bullshit.

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New farming incident statistics

The latest statistics of farm injuries from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare provide a useful insight in to the workplace risks of Australian farms. Given the workplace focus of the SafetyAtWorkBlog, and the articles written about the risk of working with quad bikes, the following statistics are of great interest:

For quad bikes, almost 90% of injuries were sustained by the driver in people aged 15 and over.” (page 9)

For injuries involving quad bikes, males accounted for two-thirds (66%) of all hospitalisations for children aged 0–14 and almost 80% of all hospitalisations for people aged 15 and over.” (page 9)

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More work needed on public evacuation protocols

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On 12 July 2017 a kitchen fire broke out in a densely packed restaurant and cafe sector of Melbourne, Australia.  This article illustrates some of the localised response and firefighting attempts.  Earlier that day I was in a cafe in Melbourne’s northern suburbs when the building’s evacuation alarm sounded (pictured right).  There was no fire in the cafe and patrons were confused when directed to evacuate by a voice on the speaker/alarm system.  This confusion was not helped when the young waiters told patrons to stay, kept serving patrons and  continued to take orders.  This experience illustrates significant misunderstandings about emergency protocols in public areas. Continue reading “More work needed on public evacuation protocols”