When ATV helmets are “best practice”

A recent media statement from the New Zealand Department of Labour on all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety is annoying and disappointing.

On 15 September 2009, the Palmerston North District Court today fined farmer Trevor Mark Schroder $25,000 and ordered him to pay reparation of $20,000 to his employee John Haar over an  ATV accident on 26 November 2008 that left Mr Haar with serious head injuries.

Dr Geraint Emry, the DoL Chief Adviser for Health and Safety, says

“…Mr Haar was riding an ATV supplied by Mr Schroder when he apparently drove into a wire used to direct cows into specific areas of the farm.  Mr Haar had not been wearing a helmet and the severity of his injuries increased as a consequence.  Nor had he been told that the wire he rode into had been put across the race.”

atvguide2 coverThe statement goes on to state

“The Agricultural Guidelines – Safe Use of ATVs on New Zealand Farms – advise that the wearing of helmets by quad bike riders is considered best practice.”

SafetyAtWorkBlog strongly knows that New Zealand is very active in ATV safety but finds it hard to believe that the “wearing of helmets…is considered best practice”.  This admits that, in using ATVs, personal protective equipment is the best hazard control option available.

The guidelines mentioned above are from 2003 and do mention ROPS:

“Until such time as there is evidence to the contrary, farmers have the right to choose whether or not they fit ROPS to their ATVs.”

The NZ DoL and, by inference, the Chief Adviser are quoting a 2003 guideline as best practice in 2009?!

Relying on helmets may be the reality but is also an admission of defeat with ATV designers and manufacturer.  In many circumstances ATVs cannot be fitted with roll-over protective structures (ROPS) due to the nature of the work – orcharding for example.  But Australia and New Zealand insist on ROPS for tractors, with similar criteria and exceptions to ATVs.

VWA Farm_ROPs coverIn one ROPS FAQ from the NZ DoL it says

“Evidence both in New Zealand and overseas has shown that the risk of injury in a tractor overturn can be substantially reduced when the tractor is fitted with ROPS of the appropriate standard.”

and

“Where the nature of the operation makes it not practical for ROPS to be fitted to an agricultural tractor, then, under the terms of this code of practice, the General Manager, Occupational Safety & Health Service, may issue a notice excluding the tractor from the requirement to have a ROPS.”

Some States in Australia have had rebate schemes for ROPS for many years.

It is suggested that a better level of driver protection from rollovers is evident on forklifts through the use of seatbelt and an integrated protective structure.  Applying logic to safety is fraught with danger but the rollover hazard is the same whether in a warehouse or a paddock and having only a helmet for a forklift driver would be absurd and unacceptable.  Why is only a helmet considered best practice for ATV drivers?

Rather than comparing ATVs to motorcycles as in this 2003 report, the comparison should be between ATVs and tractors or, maybe, forklifts.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says this about ROPS and ATVs in June 2008:

Many ATVs have a high centre of gravity, and are prone to tipping over when cornering or being driven on a slope. Rollover is the leading cause of injury associated with ATVs – riders can be crushed or trapped under an overturned machine.

If you attach a rollover protection structure (ROPS) to your ATV, make sure it’s securely fastened, doesn’t interfere with rider mobility and doesn’t raise the ATV’s centre of gravity. Contact OSH for guidelines on how to fit ROPS safely, and make sure the ROPS is strong enough to protect you.

So why aren’t ROPS considered best practice by the DoL?

The ATV injury case quoted above is unlikely to have occurred if the ATV had some form of structure around the driver or, admittedly, the wire was more visible or known to the driver.  The relevance in this case was that the helmet most probably reduced the severity of the injury but would not have avoided contact with the wire.

Research is occurring on ROPS for ATVs but the rollover hazard has existed for as long as ATVs have existed.  Are ATVs simply unsuitable for the work they are being used for?  Is the design wrong for workplace use?  Are they being advertised or promoted for inappropriate use?  Should farm workers be encouraged legislatively or financially to fit ROPS?  Perhaps the only safe ATV is a tractor?

Is the requirement for ROPS for tractors, but only helmets for ATVs, an acceptable double standard for workplace safety?

Kevin Jones

Finger injury causes hefty new safety agenda for John Holland Rail

Comcare has instigated a hefty list of enforceable undertakings (EU) against John Holland Rail (JHR) after a contractor, Jack Wilmot, needed a finger amputated after a workplace injury.

According to the report on the Comcare website

“…an apprentice boilermaker was involved in an incident which resulted in crush injuries to his left index finger at a JHR facility located at Kewdale, Western Australia.”

Cover John_Holland_enforceable_undertaking_legal_documentComcare’s investigation report

“found that JHR failed to ensure the apprentice, had received adequate training, supervision and instructions in the task he was undertaking when injured.”

Stephen Sasse, Director of John Holland Rail, signed off on the enforceable undertaking at the end of August 2009.

Below are some of the mandatory safety improvements

  • maintain the new supervisory structure implemented at the Kewdale facility shortly after the incident
  • implement and adapt the safer systems of work across JHR workplaces within two months of signing the EU
  • conduct a risk assessment of all major activities undertaken by JHR to determine and identify those which should be classified as ‘high risk activities’ (HRAs) within six months of signing the EU
  • eliminate where reasonably practicable to do so, all HRAs and otherwise apply appropriate control measures to the balance of the HRAs, within six months of signing the EU
  • provide training regarding safer systems of work to all JHR employees who undertake rail plant maintenance activities as part of their duties within eight months of signing the EU
  • commence implementation of the Rail Safety Business Plan 2009 at all JHR workplaces by 31 September 2009 including commencing work on each of the 28 strategic initiatives within the stated timeframes.

Some of these tasks would be impossible to undertake from scratch.  A response from John Holland Rail and/or John Holland Group is being sought.

Enforceable undertakings are a feature of financial and OHS legal processes.  In Queensland and Victoria an EU is

“… a legal agreement in which a person or organisation undertakes to carry out specific activities to improve worker health and safety and deliver benefits to industry and the broader community.”

John Holland Group has been proud of its OHS record for many years and has had the benefit of Janet Holmes a Court as a safety champion within and outside the company.  Holmes a Court spoke of her commitment to safety at the 2009 Safety In Action Conference which was hosted by the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) of which John Holland is a Diamond Corporate Partner ($A25,000 minimum donation).

Only last week the SIA, proudly announced a Diamond Corporate Partnership with John Holland Group which commits the company to, amongst other commitments,

  • “Act and work responsibly and competently at all times to improve health and safety in workplaces and ensure they do no harm.
  • Give priority to the health, safety and welfare of employees, employers and other workplace health and safety stakeholders in accordance with accepted standards of moral and legal behaviour during the performance of their duties.
  • Ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees, employers and other workplace health and safety stakeholders takes precedence over the professional member’s responsibility to sectional or private interests.
  • Ensure work by people under their direction is competently performed and honestly and reliably reported.
  • Ensure they do not engage in any illegal or improper practices.”

It is suggested that for next year’s Safety In Action Conference, the SIA asks a JHG representative to discuss the above enforceable undertakings as a case study of inadequate safety management and the related organisational and financial costs.

Kevin Jones

[Note: Kevin Jones was involved in the promotion of Safety In Action 2009]

Man crushed by unstable stack

On 1 September 2009 there were early reports that

“… a man died at Stanhope in northern Victoria when a one-tonne bag of salt fell from a stack and crushed him at a cheese factory.”

Further details were revealed in a media report on 4 September 2009. The media officer for WorkSafe, Michael Birt, discussed the stacking of multiple, one-tonne, bags of salt.

“The improvement notice is requiring them to develop a safer system of work in relation to storing the salt because they can’t stack it three high in these bales which are about a metre tall,” he said.  “It’s symptomatic of what happens in typical cases after this, we look at it and we find the systems need to be further improved.  Our aim is to get safety improvements happening sooner rather than later and if those improvement notices are dealt with promptly everyone’s life moves on.”

WorkSafe informed SafetyAtWorkBlog that the 50-year-old man was at the base of a stack of three bags of salt.  Each bag had been placed in the factory on a pallet, so the stack from the floor was pallet – bag – pallet – bag – pallet – bag.  The bottom bag had leaked and has possibly destabilised the stack.  The stack fell, crushing the man.  There was not racking around the stack.

The bags (similar to the one pictured right) are large bale-type bags with handles.  The bags are used for a variety of contents and are in common use.

There were no witnesses to the man’s death on the Tuesday afternoon.  Gaffer tape was found near the man’s body

WorkSafe has placed a “do not disturb” notice on the fatality site and has formally directed the company to review its bulk handling procedures in the salt store.

WorkSafe Victoria has a range of advice and guidances concerning the bulk handling of raw material, a couple are below.

Kevin Jones

Pages from large_bulky_awkwardHSS0032-Pallets-Unloading                   1tems-          1545694036sing     0x1.960ec0p-891bulk                   0eliverymethod_Page_1239120

Public Comments – Fishing and Legionnaire’s

WorkSafe Western Australia has two documents currently open for public comment.   One concerns a draft code of practice  for the prevention of falls from commercial fishing vessels.  The other may have a wider appeal as it is a draft code of practice for the prevention and control of Legionnaires’ disease.

man_overboard coverThe man overboard code is an example of established hazard management and risk control options for a niche hazard in a niche working environment, however, it is often in these areas where procedural and technical processes are most easily recognised.  The draft code is in a format, and has a degree of clarity, that encourages discussion and examination.

Readers may find some useful information for those workers who work alone or in isolation, for those who need to undertake tasks at nighttime and in intense darkness, and for those workplaces that require a strict induction for new workers.

LEGIONNAIRES__Public_comment coverSimilarly, the Legionnaire’s code of practice builds on established risk management concepts and shows that businesses still need to prevent legionnaire’s infections even if there is a regulatory/licensing system in place for cooling towers.

On a formatting note, both these draft codes could have benefited from the regulators embracing more of the Web 2.0 concepts.  The PDF files do have some hyperlinks for some more information or emails but there could be a lot more effort put in to making the drafts a hub for the documents’ references.  For instance, mentions of legislation could lead to online versions so that those commenting online can flick back and forth from reference to topic.

[Just imagine how much more helpful a code of practice with such functionality could be to a small business – wiki + blog+ safety = better compliance]

In the Legionnaire’s draft there are tags on page 36 that could lead to the online text of the Acts referred to.  The tags are a good idea but could use increased functionality.

Lastly, the Legionnaire’s code references eight Australian Standards and publications.  It is a reasonable expectation that, for this hazard, industry submissions will be the majority and those parties already have the Standards.  However, if a broad consultation is required, many interested parties may find purchasing these Standards a substantial cost burden,  which SafetyAtWorkBlog calculated to be at least $A390 for the PDF versions.

Kevin Jones

Beware Greeks bearing lasers

For some years now, laser pointers have been misused in a range of activities, from the football field and to cinemas but, most significantly and in an OHS context, towards the pilots of aircraft. (A good summary of the significance of the hazard can be found at Wikipedia)

One example of government response to the hazard can be seen from a media release of the Queensland government in 2008.

The latest incidence of laser pointers and pilots comes from Greece only last week.  According to a report in Kathimerini:

“Two boys aged 13 and 14 were arrested on Saturday [15 August 2009] on Rhodes for forcing a pilot to abandon a landing at the Dodecanese island’s Diagoras Airport because they aimed a laser pointer at the airplane’s cockpit. The pilot of the flight from Alexandroupoli was forced to land on his second attempt.”

More details of the event are, of course, included in the news report.  The most curious piece of information is that police have also arrested the boys’ parents.

Kevin Jones

OHS and workload – follow-up

SafetyAtWorkBlog has had a tremendous response to the article concerning Working Hours and Political Scandal.  Below are some of the issues raised in some of the correspondence I have received from readers and OHS colleagues.

The Trade Union Congress Risk e-bulletin has a similar public service/mental health case which has been resolved through the Courts.   The site includes links through to other media statements and reports.

Australia’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has launched its work/life balance awards for 2009.  The information available on the awards is strongly slanted to a work/family balance which is very different from work/life and excludes employees making decisions for the benefit of their own mental health – a proper work/life balance which is the philosophical basis underpinning OHS legislation.  SafetyAtWorkBlog is investigating these awards with DEEWR.

SafeWork in South Australia is working on a code of practice on working hours and has been providing OHS advice on this matter since 2000.

The WA government has had a draft code on working hours for some time.

A legal reader has pointed out that  “the 38 hour week issue is not set in stone …[and]  is not a maximum for non-award employees.”  So expect more industrial relations discussion on that issue over the next two years.

One reader generalised from the Grech case about decision-making at senior levels, a concern echoed by many others.

“The Grech case illustrates the gradual disintegration of effectiveness, and the employee’s own inability to recognise that it is not a personal failing of efficiency, rather an unrecognised systemic risk.

When the employee is at senior level, there is more likelihood there will be poor attention to the warning signs. Any ‘underperformance’ would be seen as a personal failing. For those of us in the safety business, it is obvious that the system itself is in need of urgent risk management.”

There were congratulations from many readers for raising a significant and hidden OHS issue.

“Many people in industry work more than 70 hour a week. This affects their health and personal relationships.”

“Overwork and under-resourcing lead to poor decision making, adverse business outcomes, and in the long term psychological and physical ill health. Both the government and corporate sectors are paying little attention to this issue.”

The workplace hazards resulting from fatigue are being addressed in several industries such as transport, mining and forestry, where attentiveness is hugely important because of the catastrophic consequences of poor judgement.

One of the issues from the Grech case is that the quality of judgement in non-critical, or administrative, occupations can be severely affected by fatigue, mental health and other psychosocial issues.  These may not affect the health and well-being of others but can have a significant effect on the individual.  OHS does not only deal with systemic or workplace cultural elements but is equally relevant to the individual worker.

Kevin Jones

[Thanks to all those who have written to me and continue to do so. KJ]

River death leads to OHS prosecution

The prosecution of a New Zealand adventure company, Black Sheep Adventures, over the death of Englishwoman Emily Jordan has received more press in England than in Australia but the case should be watched by all OHS professionals.

One report provides a useful summary of the fatal incident

“Emily Jordan drowned while riverboarding on the Kawarau river in New Zealand’s south island in April last year [2008].

The 21-year-old former Alice Ottley School (now RGSAO) pupil was travelling with her boyfriend after graduating from Swansea University with a first class degree in law.

The riverboarding company Black Sheep Adventures Ltd and its director Brad McLeod have been charged with failing to ensure the actions or inaction of employees did not harm Miss Jordan.”

The same article is an illustration of the importance of regular communication with the family of the deceased by the Authorities, even if the parties are on opposite sides of the globe.

The family established The Emily Jordan Foundation and a eulogy about Emily is available which provides a clearer understanding of what was lost in this tragedy.

Black Sheep Adventures have also been charged under the Health and Safety Employment Act 1992, with failing “failure to take all practical steps to ensure the safety of employees and the prevention of possible hazards.”  The company and its director have pleaded not guilty.

The Birmingham Post is continuing to cover the case including the start of the trial due for next week.

Maritime New Zealand who are prosecuting the company instigated a review of the river boarding industry in late 2008.

Kevin Jones

Vehicles are workplaces too

Radical Concept 1 – A vehicle can be workplace

Today the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) urged fleet managers to consider OHS obligations in their choice 0f work vehicles.  ANCAP said

“Our understanding of the OH&S principles is that there is an obligation on companies and fleet managers to ensure a safe workplace.

“Vans certainly constitute a workplace under the legal definition. We would urge fleet purchasers to examine the legislation and then factor safety into their fleet purchasing policies.”

But in practice this creates enormous challenges for the fleet manager who may only have chosen vehicles in the past that were fit-for-purpose without considering the needs of the driver.

Only recently have steps been added to trucks to allow for easier access to goods on the rear trays.  When technology became affordable tilt-down hydraulic ramps were installed, although these have their own work hazards. In both of these examples the changes occurred outside the cabin and related to accessing the transportable products.  Looking after the physical and psychological needs of the driver as a worker is different.

For instance, emergency fire appliances in Australia have had substantially improved design over the last ten years.  Many of the features are for the benefit of drivers and passengers, such as flip-out steps  for when the vehicle is stationary or special seating to allow for personal protective clothing.  But the cost of each of these new “safer” vehicles is such that the introduction is phased in and most likely as replacement vehicles.  This process could take years.  How can a workplace justify allowing only some workers to use “safer” workplaces?  The churn of vehicles could establish an inequitable safety standard ion the workplace.

ANCAP’s argument seem to be that a fleet manager who chooses a vehicle that does not have the  highest level of safety available are not providing a safe workplace.  We could be back to determining what is reasonably practicable.

Radical Concept 2 – A road can be considered a workplace.

Some bus drivers consider their regular route to be a workplace.  To some extent this is supported by the road traffic authorities who only allow certain speed control mechanisms on the roads that have bus traffic, such as speed islands rather than speed humps.  Although this may be due to the needs of not knocking the passengers around as well.

Regardless of the whether it is passenger safety, pedestrian safety or public liability insurance that creates these design decisions, bus drivers take some “ownership” of their routes.

Important Consideration 1 – Vehicles have drivers

A lot of attention has been given to driver distraction and how drivers drive.  Not only are there distractions from within the cabins from passengers, radios, phones, cigarette smoking and a range of driving activities, the relationship between external signage and driver response has also been high.

The complexity of the distraction issue can perhaps be summarized by a couple of recent links. In July 2009 a roadside memorial to a fatality itself is identified as having contributed to a fatality.  Research in the United States has begun on the impact of roadside memorials but at the moment the jury is out.

“Our results showed that the number of red light violations was reduced by 16.7% in the 6 weeks after the installation of the mock memorials compared to the 6 weeks before whereas the number of violations at two comparison sites experienced an increase of 16.8%.”

Managers, fleet and OHS, also need to assess the suitability of their workers for driving and consider the following matters.

  • Companies have an obligation to induct new workers.  Do companies induct new drivers on their vehicles or is a valid driver’s licence deemed sufficient?
  • Is a driving licence a certificate of competence?
  • Is a worker’s driving record considered when employing them?  Would one employ a driver whose record shows a propensity for speeding?
  • Are driving applicants asked whether there is a history of road rage?
  • How many demerit points are left on their licence when employed?
  • For car driving the same licence is used for personal vehicle use and driving work vehicles.  What would happen if the worker has their driver’s licence suspended thereby ending their capacity to drive for work?
  • It would be necessary to clarify in what circumstance transport accident insurance applies and when injuries relate to workers’ compensation?
  • Who should investigate a traffic incident involving work vehicles – the OHS regulator, police or some other authority?
  • Are traffic incident statistics collected for work-related vehicles?

Perhaps ANCAP could begin looking not only at the design of vehicles and additional safety features but also how these matters affect a driver’s perception of their own safety.  Does the elevation of the driver compared to other vehicles change the way the driver drives?  Could the safety features encourage the driver to drive recklessly?  Is technology deadening the driver’s instincts?

Similar questions have been posed in the occupational field for decades in relation to the operation of plant, the safe design of workplaces and the types and locations of safety signage.  Now these concepts must be considered for the mobile workplace.  Many will find this process challenging with some thinking that it is just another grab by the OHS “fascists”.

The issues do need considerable discussion in workplaces.  The recent WorkSafe Victoria “Guide to safe work related driving” is a good starting point but for the development of appropriate policies and, more importantly, to affect cultural change on the matter, companies require an elaboration by traffic authorities and from groups like ANCAP.

Kevin Jones

Driving and talking

The issue of driving while using a mobile is a perennial issue for the media but nothing much changes.  The New York Times on 20 July 2009 carried an article on the latest research which confirms  many previous studies that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of an accident.

Pages from 6i17 rawNo US State has banned the practice because social use of mobile phones has become so widespread that any ban is impossible to enforce effectively.

In January 2009, SafetyAtWorkBlog reported on the recommendations from WorkSafe Victoria on the matter.  Even in their guide they would say nothing more than

“recommend that hands free calls be kept to a minimum”.

At some point for most workplace hazards, the evidence outweighs the enforcement difficulties and bans ensue.  It has happened to asbestos, it has happened with smoking, but these are decades after dancing around the most effective control measure – elimination.

Pages from 6i02 v4The industrialised world, in particular, has been wrestling with the hazard of phones and driving for well over a decade.  One report from 2002 said

“Tests carried out by scientists at the Transport Research Laboratory established that driving behaviour is impaired more by using a mobile phone than by being over the legal alcohol limit.”

The footnote to this comment said

“Previous research has shown that phone conversations while driving impair performance. It was difficult to quantify the risk of this impairment because the reference was usually made to normal driving without using a phone. “Worse than normal driving” does not necessarily mean dangerous. There was a need therefore to benchmark driving performance while using a mobile phone to a clearly dangerous level of performance. Driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit is an established danger.”

There are always conditions set with research findings but these are sensible and valid.

Pages from 3i13According to a 2004 report by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported by UPI (unable to find a link)

“…estimated 8 percent of all motorists — about 1.2 million drivers — were using cell phones at any given time while driving, up from 6 percent in 2002 and 4 percent in 2000. About 800,000 of those drivers used handsets and not hands-free devices.

  • Handheld cell phone use increased from 5 percent to 8 percent among drivers aged 15 to 24 between 2002 and 2004.
  • Use of cellular-phone handsets increased from 4 percent to 6 percent of female drivers, while the number of men talking on handheld cell phones while driving remained constant at 4 percent.
  • Motorists were more likely to use a cell phone while driving alone, but drivers with children in the vehicle were just as likely to use the phone as those without children in the car.”

For those readers who like dollar figures, the same UPI article stated

“A 2002 study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, part of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, found drivers using cell phones caused 1.5 million accidents annually resulting in 2,600 deaths and 570,000 injuries.

Researchers estimated banning cell phone use in vehicles would cost $43 billion a year in lost economic activity.”

Pages from 2003-119[The only HCRA report on the website is is a 2003 study – Cohen, J.T. and Graham, J.D. A revised economic analysis of restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving. Risk Analysis. 2003; 23(1):5-17.]

A September 2003 report from NIOSH lists a range of driver hazards related to work activities and is worth downloading.  Pages 51-555 deal specifically with phone use.

(If any reader knows of a literature review on this topic, please contact SafetyAtWorkBlog)

This workplace hazard has been around for so long that in the opinion of SafetyAtWorkBlog, when someone is driving a work vehicle 100% of their attention should be on the principal task at hand – driving.

Achieving this realistic aim can be helped by

  • not passing on mobile phone numbers when one knows the person is driving.  The low tech alternative of taking a message works.
  • having employees turn off the phone while driving. (The phone does have an OFF switch)
  • not fitting workplace vehicles with hands-free units.
  • reminding employees of the safe driving policies of the business; and
  • enforcing those policies so that employees know that dangerous acts will not be tolerated or compensated by the company.

Above all, employees must be informed of the risks involved with distraction, must be reassured that employers will support safe actions, and must realise the affect on other drivers and their families from their own mistakes.

Kevin Jones

The need for a safety philosopher

It is very hard to be an OHS professional and not feel like one is part of the “nanny state” approach personal choice.  There is a fundamental disconnection between the responsibilities on business for a safe workplace and the responsibilities on an individual to make themselves safe at work.

When the work processes are seen as mechanistic, where workers are part of that process, safety management is easier.  Hazards are known because the work process and environment are fixed and have no variation.  The employer’s area of responsibility is clear and can be said to be from the engineering/production perspective.

But at different points in history, the spotlight of humanism becomes bright enough that the workers get attention.  Safety management becomes complex because humanity is acknowledged in the work processes, one must consult, talk, listen and engage with the worker who was, previously, an element of the production process.

This is the manicheism of safety management – the machine or the human.

This rumination occurred in response to an article reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the union representing Sydney bus drivers “asking the New South Wales Government to pay for personal trainers and Weight Watchers programs.”

The union’s bus secretary, Raul Boanza, says, according to the ABC report,

“the union wants the Government to formalise an existing 50 per cent Weight Watchers subsidy by including the provision in enterprise agreements” and

“it will also seek gym memberships or personal trainers on a case-by-case basis on the advice of a medical specialist.”

Apparently “the Rail, Tram and Bus Union says drivers must pass strict medical standards every two years to keep their licences”.

SafetyAtWorkBlog contacted the union this afternoon and were advised that the person who raised the issue initially “is making no further comment on the matter.”

This is a shame as one of the first questions would have been, “should an employee be held responsible for making sure they are fit for work?”

Let’s indulge in some late-Friday afternoon silliness.  If a widget in a mechanical process is faulty it is fixed or replaced.  In a mechanistic perspective, if a worker is too fat to undertake the tasks they have performed previously they should be fixed or replaced.  This seems to match the position of Raul Boanza.

But if the widget had a consciousness and the means and responsibility to maintain their own suitability for work, should that widget be fixed or replaced?  This seems to be what each worker in any workplace needs to regularly ask themselves.

As mentioned above these two differing perspectives reflect our society’s (internal) debate on personal responsibility to one’s self and one’s society.

The leading safety academic in Australia is a sociologist.  Perhaps we are in need of a safety philosopher or at least a safety profession that considers safety in its social and personal contexts, that discusses, debates and progresses, rather than worrying about the latest corporate logo.  Perhaps we just need people to take responsibility for their own actions and be accountable for their own errors.

Kevin Jones