Converge and Reventure launched their latest research report into workplace wellbeing on 23 November 2017. The report, not yet available online, is based round a survey of just over 1000 Australians comprising over 80% full-time or part-time employees, The report has been produced as a guide for businesses and may be of some interest to health and safety people but is of limited application.
Most research reports include a clear statement of the aim of the research or a definition of the concept being investigated.
“Then I went, ‘Oh hang on, I’ve normalised so much of this as part of my industry…. This last three months has really made us all take a long hard look at what we have even let ourselves think is acceptable.” – Sacha Horler
Such a statement is familiar to those working in the field of occupational health and safety (OHS). This normalisation, or habituation, has underpinned much of the discussion of what builds a safety culture – “the way things are done round here”. As a result of revelations and accusations pertaining to Gary Glitter, Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville, Robert Hughes, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey, the entertainment industry around the world has been forced to assess the fundamental ethics on which sections of its industry are based. Continue reading “What do Weinstein, Spacey and others have to do with OHS?”
On 30 October 2017, the Safety Institute of Australia and RMIT University held their annual OHS Construction Forum. This year’s theme was flexible working arrangements – a brave choice that did not really work but was indicative of safety in the construction industry generally.
Several speakers discussed well-being generally and how flexible working arrangements were critical to fostering an appropriate level of wellness. One, a labour lawyer, outlined the legislative obligations that companies have to those types of arrangements with reference to equal opportunity laws, industrial relations and anti-discrimination obligations – sadly the workplace safety laws and obligations were not mentioned. In all of the wellbeing-themed discussions, the application to the on site construction workers was rarely, if ever, mentioned.
Victoria Australia has had a network of safety groups for well over 40 years with two or three enduring into this century. On 5 July 2017, the Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety and Health Group (BROSH) held an interactive seminar on Return-To-Work (RTW). The discussion was not revolutionary but allowed the audience – a mix of businesses, OHS professionals and students – to speak about their lived experiences with managing injured workers.
I brought the WorkSafe 2030 Strategy discussion paper to the audience’s attention and a WorkSafe representative from the seminar’s panel, pictured above, said that there are several weird technical suggestions for workplace inspections and advice emerging from the discussion within the OHS regulator. However the strategy is focussed always on the client and that it is “prevention-led”. OHS is all about the prevention of illness and injury but it appears that WorkSafe is extending this term to RTW.
The representative explained that the regulator is looking at interventions that prevent an injury or illness claim transforming into, or contributing to, another and new injury. They hope that by focussing on the injured worker and providing the right level of advice and support, the will achieve the best RTW outcome for all involved.
One of the questions from the audience was if there is a better RTW and workers’ compensation system that Victoria could move to or learn from. The panel agreed that the Victorian system seems to be leading Australia in terms of its financial health but, more importantly, the level of care and support options provided to injured workers.
The BROSH seminar was well attended and the audience was active, which largely resulted from the innovative and engaging seminar structure.
It is useful to consider corporate wellness and mental wellbeing programs in the context of work-related suicides. By considering what many consider a worst-case scenario, the effectiveness of these programs can be tested. The increased attention on domestic violence and its relationship to work over the last few years in Australia can play a similar role. New research on “intimate partner violence” provides mental health scenarios for which safety professionals need to be prepared. Continue reading “Important research into domestic violence strengthens OHS context”