Business nuggets from the Australian Financial Review

It is not possible to write as many occupational health and safety (OHS) articles as I would like to, and my newspaper clippings files are bulging by the time I get some time to tidy up. The Australian Financial Review (AFR) is an expensive business newspaper that often touches on OHS matters even though OHS may not be the core of the story. Below is a short discussion of many of those clippings from 2020. Most of the AFR articles are paywalled but can often be tracked down through other measures.

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“exponential increase in mental injuries in the workplace” and other statements in a Victorian Parliament committee

Three years ago, WorkSafe Victoria indicated that it would consider prosecuting farmers for breaches of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws. That possibility seems to have disappeared based on the latest Minister for Workplace Safety’s appearance at the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC).

Ingrid Stitt‘s appearance centred on questions related to the 2020-21 Budget Estimates and touched on Industrial Manslaughter, gig workers, mental health, and construction and farm safety.


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The HR approach to mental health needs to be challenged

Human Resources (HR) management may seem to be a bit of a punching bag in SafetyAtWorkBlog articles. There is no doubt that HR can do better to prevent harm, especially psychological harm, but so can ever other management profession. One 2018 article was recently reposted by Human Resources Director (HRD) magazine on workplace mental health which deserves some consideration.

Firstly the article is categorised under “Corporate wellness”, instantly locking it into a specific area of HR and occupational health and safety (OHS). The article, written by lawyer Amber Chandler of Barker Henley, also has relevance to risk management, due diligence, Industrial Relations or OHS and, as mentioned in another article recently, could benefit from being posted or cross-posted in those other categories, or even under “Leadership”. The categorisation is likely to have been an editorial decision but reveals something about HR and HR media.

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Right information, wrong magazine

The OHS Professional magazine for December 2020 contains a very good article about workplace psychological risks and the occupational health and safety (OHS) strategy to prevent mental harm. The only negative is that it is not published in a Human Resources magazine, or one for company directors. The preventative techniques are well known to the OHS profession and based on independent scientific evidence, but it is other managerial disciplines that need to learn the difference between preventing psychological harm and providing symptomatic relief.

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Here’s to a less crappy 2021

Thank you to all the SafetyAtWorkBlog subscribers, followers and lurkers (I know you’re out there). Special thanks to the new subscribers in Asia, the United States and Europe and the very important corporate ones in Australia. It is your subscriptions that keep the SafetyAtWorkBlog operating.

2020 has been a shitty year for many reasons, but none so awful as COVID19. It has claimed several important OHS professionals this year, or professionals who were at least important to me.

The world has changed. The world of work has changed and it has made our jobs harder in many ways.

Please stay safe over the holiday break.

Kevin Jones

Australian Safety Magazine continues to improve

The member magazine of the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS), OHS Professional, continues to improve in the quality of its articles – less advertorial, more authoritative articles. The current edition, December 2020, includes two particularly good articles- one on the manufacturers’ withdrawal of quad bikes in protest and another on psychological health and safety at work. This article will discuss the quad bike article.

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All being well!

This time last year Australia was facing horrendous bushfires and days of thick smoke. Yesterday we, in Melbourne, received over an inch of rainfall. For many Christmas was far less than joyous. At the same time a global incurable coronavirus was spreading.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) took a back seat in many ways but also came to the fore in others, depending on how exposed employers felt their businesses were and whether OHS professionals were sufficiently adaptable; depending on whether one saw public health that affects work as a workplace hazard, or let the public health people get on with their work. In all these circumstances there was a little bit of panic and varying levels of fear and anguish.

Continue reading “All being well!”