Psychological advice on handling people that is broadly applicable 1

The latest edition of Lawyers Weekly includes an article ostensibly about managing bullies in the legal profession written by psychologist, Dr Chris Day.  The article provides some general tips, though, that are useful to any of us who need to make decisions refreshingly she reflects two options that I offer to my OHS clients on safety matters that do not include bullying.  Dr Day says that any problem can be solved by these actions

  1. “Leave…
  2. Change the situation…
  3. Accept the situation…
  4. Do nothing….”

Leave and change are included in the OHS Hierarchy of Control under different terminology.  Doing nothing is advice that few OHS consultants will give but is a strategy that many small businesses apply.  Their risk management strategy is to press their luck and in some cases this can work.   More…

Oil rig workers speak about BP/Deepwater incident 1

The worker impact of the BP/Deepwater incident in the Gulf Of Mexico has finally been provide a mainstream media airing in 60 Minutes.  Workers Comp Insider blog provides some commentary and embedded video of the show.

It is a curiosity of American television that everything is open for discussion even though an official inquiry is underway.  This may be to do with the fascination of all things television but may also be reflective of a country whose legal structure allows for greater and more immediate self-analysis than the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth colleagues.

From the information available about the events preceding the disaster and immediately after, there was an increased production pressure on the oil rig’s workers.  There was some confusion on the authority for decision-making on process matters.  Emergency procedures were not well-developed or the practicalities anticipated.

Clearly there were flaws in the safety management system regardless of any design issues.  The governmental inquiry will be able to provide a much more detailed and dispassionate report of these events but it is clear that at this one oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, safety management was not clearly understood or applied by workers at the frontline.

The world is looking forward to the “big picture” report.

More OHS charges laid over insulation installer deaths 4

The OHS investigation process into the deaths of installers of insulation in Australia has led to charges being laid against Arrow Property Maintenance Pty Ltd.

On 28 June 2010, Queensland’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General has charged the company with breaches of both the  Electrical Safety Act 2002 and the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 following an extensive investigation into the fatal electrocution of a 16-year-old teenage insulation installer in Stanwell in 2009.

The charges relate to unsafe electrical work and unsafely working at height during the installation of fibreglass insulation.

Interestingly the Department has also mentioned in its media release (not yet available online) a separate prosecution under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 that is strengthened by it also being an

“… alleged breach of a Ministerial Notice issued on 1 November 2009 More…

New suicide report has something to say about workplace mental health 1

Work-related suicides have been in the press a lot in Australia over the last six months.  In June 2010, the Australian Government released a report into suicide called The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia.  It covers suicide as a social issue broadly but there are some mentions in the report about work-related suicides that are worth noting.

On social costs:

“Ms Dulcie Bird of the Dr Edward Koch Foundation argued that whole communities are often affected when a suicide occurs and described low estimates of the number of people effected by suicide as ‘a load of nonsense’. She gave the example of the suicide of a 16-year-old boy in a small town and noted her organisation had completed ’43 face-to-face interventions for that one suicide’. The Foundation commented that suicide results in the loss of the deceased person’s contribution to society as a whole. More…

Explosive impacts from the Quin Investments prosecution still to be felt 3

The Quin Investment prosecution in South Australia is a good indication of the importance of workplace safety and equipment maintenance.

On 24 June 2010, Quin Investments and one of its directors Nikolai Kuzub were found guilty of breaches of OHS law in South Australia by Industrial Magistrate Ardlie.  The incident involved an explosion at an explosives factory in May 2006 that killed three workers, injured two others and flattened the factory.  Pieces of equipment were located over 600 metres away, houses a kilometre away were damaged and the explosion was heard 40 kilometres away according to one media report.

Grant Germein, the lawyer representing Quin Investments, has asserted a conspiracy from, at least, the start of the court case:

“He said the company was being used as a scapegoat and SafeWork SA’s investigation into the incident was “not directed at the cause of the explosion”, but to “see if they could find a culprit”. More…