The Challenges of Future Workplaces – Part 1

This article is part one of an edited version of a keynote presentation I made at the a special WHS Inspectors Forum organised by WorkSafe Tasmania.  The audience comprised inspectors from around Australia and New Zealand.  I was asked to be provocative and challenging so posed some questions to the audience about how occupational health and safety (OHS) is managed, regulated and inspected.

The audio of the presentation is available at SoundCloud and Podbean and below.

 “The purpose of this session is to provide insight into the future challenges for work health and safety regulators due to changes in the nature of work, the workforce, supply chains, and the social and political environments, and encourage inspectors to consider how the way they do their work may need to change to meet these challenges.”

Be Critical

I encourage you all to analyse what you say, what you are told, what you do and how you do it.  Too often we accept information and our situations uncritically and I want you to question everything, including what you read in this article.

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‘Safety Clutter’ and what to do about it

Many companies have bloated workplace procedures.  Many of these seem to involve workplace health and safety.  Some people blame this on a bureaucracy designed in the olden times by someone, that somehow still exists and is maintained by someone or some process that no one sees or knows. Some prominent Australian researchers have looked into this issue and have written about “safety clutter”* which they say is:

“…the accumulation of safety procedures, documents, roles, and activities that are performed in the name of safety, but do not contribute to the safety of operational work.”.”

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Not even lip service to OHS

Australia currently has a lot of official inquiries into workplace issues that affect the occupational health and safety (OHS) of workers.  It is almost impossible to keep up with them and, as a result, some important voices are being missed, but even if they spoke, there is a strong chance they will not be listened to. The Victorian Government has released the final report of the Inquiry into Penalty Rates and Fair Pay.  There are two overt mentions of OHS that don’t seem to go anywhere.

In a submission quoted by the Inquiry, the

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The SIA’s National Conference is on the right path

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Let’s acknowledge the problems with this year’s Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) National Conference upfront before the good stuff is mentioned.

A speaker on the issue of Diversity failed to turn up.  Many of the rooms were setup in such a configuration that some delegates had to stand or, like I did, sit on the floor. Almost all the speakers were asked to speak for over 40 minutes which was a challenge for some and conflicts with studies about attention spans.  Some of the presentations didn’t seem to support the “in practice” theme of the conference. Lastly, what some described as challenging presentations, others found to be vanilla and too general. Some of these problems were beyond the SIA’s control but they were still negative experiences.

Over the next week SafetyAtWorkBlog will be writing about some of the very positive speakers and experiences at the SIA National Conference. Continue reading “The SIA’s National Conference is on the right path”

#MeToo, #TimesUp and #OHS

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Being International Women’s Day, the media is awash with articles about pay rates, gender equality and sexual harassment.  One of those articles is written by Sarah Ralph of Norton Rose Fullbright. Ralph provides a good summary of the current gender issues and recent media attention (may require registration but it’s free).  She makes several recommendations for how to reduce the risk of sexual harassment and unwanted media attention.  Below those recommendations are looked at from the occupational health and safety (OHS) perspective to see how OHS can help reduce the psychological harm. Continue reading “#MeToo, #TimesUp and #OHS”