When a former head of a national occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator writes a book, it may be a curiosity (and it is rare). But when the writer is the former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the book becomes interesting. When the book is called “The Triumph of Doubt – Dark Money and the Science of Deception“, it becomes a must-read. SafetyAtWorkBlog dips into David Michaels‘ new book (as I only received it yesterday) and finds treasure.
This is not the first time that Michaels has written about Doubt and how whole industries have developed to create, market and exploit Doubt for the benefit of the Establishment. However, the new book is super-topical in this time of “Fake News” and blatant disregard of science and scientists.
Zero Harm is hardly ever mentioned in Australia’s academic occupational health and safety (OHS) conferences, except maybe with a little snigger. But it was prominent at the NSCAV Foundation’s SafetyConnect conference in late August 2019. This was partly because this conference has more of a commercial bent compared to other conferences but also because several international speakers from Asia were able to clarify what was meant by the term.
This conference had an enviable number of prominent Asian OHS professionals and engineers. One of them Ho Siong Hin (pictured above) explained the application of Vision Zero by the Singaporean government and business community.
[Updated 12 noon 12 June 2019]
Why do some companies accept or propose an Enforceable Undertaking in relation to breaches of occupational health and safety law? This media statement from WorkSafeNT dated June 7, 2019 illustrates one answer:
“Car Festivals Pty Ltd and the Northern Territory Major Events Company Pty Ltd committed to spend a combined $1.2 million in legally binding agreements, when it became clear NT WorkSafe was considering laying charges over the incident.” (emphasis added)
This reads like someone has calculated the potential cost (fines, etc) to the companies from an OHS prosecution and has opted for the cheaper option. And $1.2 million is a hefty financial commitment.
Effective consultation is a core element of building a functional safety management system in any workplace. This involves talking and listening. Various occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators have pushed this point in the past usually with static images of mouths and ears but WorkSafe New Zealand has released a series of videos in support of its existing”How you can use your mouth” campaign. Thankfully WorkSafeNZ has taken a leaf from the Air New Zealand book and used humour.
Of particular interest is the brief but importance emphasis on the role of the ethical bystander.
After writing a recent article about the relevance of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws to sporting clubs, I attended a sports medicine seminar to access a different perspective on workplace safety.
Having never played sports outside the obligatory high school activities, which in my high school also included snooker?!, the world of locker rooms and team sports is foreign. But earlier this week I learnt that where OHS professionals talk about productivity, sportspeople speak of performance, and where factories address line speed, sports physicians talk of load management. I also learnt that professional sportspeople are exempt from workers’ compensation.