Safety Systems of Work receives some clarity

Employers and their representatives have long claimed to not understand their occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations and include OHS in their spurious claims of government “red tape”. These claims have become a business mantra but it is BS. OHS is not separate from running a business, making business decisions, or even designing a business at the earliest concept stages. OHS exists in these processes even if the business owners fail to accept it.

But Australia’s OHS regime does have its blind spots. A major one is the lack of explanation for a “safe system of work“. But SafeWork’s new Designing Work to Manage Psychosocial Risks guidance offers some clarity. Maybe what has been largely ignored in the past has a renewed (psychosocial) relevance.

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Where is the OHS debate on zero hours contracts?

Australia is experiencing a period of industrial reforms that is returning some power to workers and, according to some critics, the trade union movement – working hours, same pay for the same job, changing employment status, right to disconnect and more. A curious omission is a discussion of the concept of Zero Hours Contracts. This type of employment is crucial to improving mental health at work as it strengthens a worker’s job control, economy and security.

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Work (re)design needs government subsidies to succeed

Last week, SafeWork New South Wales progressed the management of psychosocial hazards at work with the release of its Designing Work to Manage Psychosocial Risks guidance. This document has been a long time coming and offers significant advice on how work and people management needs to change in order to prevent psychosocial hazards. However, its implementation is likely to generate considerable opposition and confusion, or even organisational shock, if it is not able to convince employers of increased profitability and productivity from making the change.

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Purposeful or lazy discussion of Right-To-Disconnect and Working-From-Home?

There is a curious development in the current discussion in Australia about the newly introduced Right-To-Disconnect (RTD). Many are conflating RTD with Working From Home (WFH) – two separate but slightly overlapping changes to the world of work – which is impeding valid and necessary discussion.

Working From Home largely emerged as a response to the coronavirus pandemic and used flimsy work structures to provide business continuity. The WFH arrangements would have been unlikely to have been so widespread without the federal government’s investment in the National Broadband Network and the commercial growth in mobile phone communication infrastructure. However, that same infrastructure and investment have contributed to the problem that Right-To-Disconnect is intended to address.

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More management myths busted

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is rife with ideas that refuse to die even though they are not supported by evidence. OHS management is dominated by a belief that Executive Leadership is either the answer or the first place to start change. Leadership and OHS are dangerously intertwined. Perhaps an assessment of Zombie Leadership is required. Some recent Australian research will help.

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Occupational Hygienist – Rene LeBlanc

It has been several months since the 23rd World Congress for Health and Safety was held in Sydney, pictured above. A major benefit of attending occupational health and safety (OHS) conferences is meeting people, old and new. I was honoured to meet Rene LeBlanc, an occupational hygienist from Canada. We had dinner on a very rainy and stormy Sydney night, and Rene agreed to an interview. Below is an edited version of part of that conversation (it was a long dinner). Rene was wide-ranging on his OHS topics.

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Right-To-Disconnect changes need a strategy for acceptance

On February 11, 2024, the Insiders program had a curious discussion on the Right-To-Disconnect. Different generational perspectives, industry perspectives, and a curious denial were present.

Last week, the Australian Parliament passed workplace relations legislation that included a Right-To-Disconnect.

Insiders’ host, David Speers, asked Jacob Greber of the Australian Financial Review to explain the probable workplace changes (it was a poor summary):

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