Sometimes marketing gets in the way of OHS information

The internet and social media are peppered with articles that are ostensibly about occupational health and safety (OHS) and psychosocial health and wellbeing but are really marketing exercises. These things pop up frequently on LinkedIn. A recent example is from Lyra Health called “Workforce Mental Health Trends for 2023: Top 3 Predictions“. You can see from the title why I would be interested in obtaining the full survey report.

I chose not to download the company’s survey for the following reasons.

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Give me a young worker, and I can make them safer for life*

Trade union membership in Australia has declined to its lowest level ever of 12.5%, according to an article in The Age newspaper (paywalled) on January 6 2023. The experts mention several demographic factors that have resulted in the persistent decline. Even though trade unionists publicly state that worker health and safety is often their top priority, they never seem to use occupational health safety (OHS) in their marketing of union membership.

This article does not suggest that OHS be bastardised for commercial purposes or that the primary responsibility for safe work does not reside with the employer. Still, union membership may be purchased for a young worker, in particular, perhaps by parents or concerned relatives to assist in keeping their loved ones safe at work.

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On psychosocial hazards, HR and OHS are getting closer……. slowly

In narrow terms, the occupational health and safety (OHS) profession has largely neglected the management of psychological harm in workplaces. Human Resources (HR) has been the “go-to” on this issue, but various government inquiries have identified major shortcomings in the HR approach. In a recent podcast, Tony Morris of law firm Ashurst interviewed an HR and OHS professional on sexual harassment and psychosocial risks at work.

In response to the question of whether these risks are no being accepted as work health and safety risks, Julia Sutherland responded that this reality has been accepted by OHS regulators but implies that the acceptance has not been to the same extent by employers. She reassures employers who have not been approaching these hazards through OHS laws and guidance that they should not be alarmed as the OHS context has only existed for “a couple of years”.

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WorkSafe Victoria awards were hit and miss

Last week WorkSafe Victoria finally held its awards night for 2021. The finalists were deserved winners, but compared to previous pre-COVID awards nights, this one was sedate and sometimes flat. SafetyAtWorkBlog will be looking at some of the issues raised by the awards ceremony in a series of articles this week.

The crowd was much smaller than in previous years. This could have been due to the event having been postponed, I think twice, but it could also indicate a lower importance for this type of event. Many of the usual attendees seemed missing – occupational health and safety (OHS) and workplace relations law firms, major companies, industry associations and CEOs, and those who are not finalists but appreciate the opportunity to network with significant players in Victorian OHS.

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On mental health, everyone wants to win

In response to the first of this series of articles on Victoria’s proposed Psychological Health regulations, one reader provided an excellent outline of one of the roads leading to the proposal. It is certainly worth looking back to the Boland Review and recommendations, but it is also worth considering some of the politics around Minister Stitt’s announcement in May 2021.

Recently WorkSafe Victoria’s Principal Psychological Health and Safety Specialist, Dr Libby Brook, was interviewed on the Psych Health and Safety Podcast. In providing background to the proposed regulations, politics was touched upon, sort of, but it was good to hear directly from a WorkSafe representative on the issue and the proposed regulations. The interview illustrated some of the strengths and weaknesses in the regulations.

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Curious Blog statistics

Analysing end of year statistics for the SafetyAtWorkBlog has uncovered a couple of curiosities.

The blog has been operating for over 14 years, and the average number of articles each year is 223. The average number of words per article increased over that time to 1,016 in 2021. The graph below shows the change over time. (The subscription model commenced in 2017)

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Happy (Safe and Healthy) Holidays

It has been almost two years since I spent time at a beach. In an island country like Australia, that is almost a sin but my sin will he wiped over the Christmas and New Year break. More than a physical break from work, a mental health break is essential. I have some detective novels, graphic novels and celebrity biographies to help me unwind.

As safety health and wellbeing advocates and professionals, we should be exemplars on mental and physical health but even exemplars have bosses and need to “undertake other duties, as directed”. Regardless of these operational pressures, we all need a rest and the SafetyAtWorkBlog team of workers and web designers hope that you get to rest, relax and reconnect over the next few weeks.

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