Is politics anti-family? 4

Another Australian politician has resigned to spend more time with his family but this time the family mantra is not tacked on to a struggling career in order to add moral weight to the political decision sadly many examples of dubious resignations are available.  Most commentators believe that the Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett’s decision is a genuine desire to spend more time with his young family.

Premier David Bartlett talking to workers at the McKay Timbers.

Most of the media coverage relates to the political context of Bartlett’s decision but the circumstances for the decision are not unique as some previous SafetyAtWorkBlog articles show.  Political careers can lead to suicide attempts, depression and mental breakdown.  Certainly this occurs in other professions but at some point the structure of the occupation needs reviewing if a work/life balance is to be achieved.

Politics has always been a time vampire that has required the welfare and development of children to be given a lower priority than public service.  More…

Controlling Christmas party risks is a year-round activity 2

Every year, around this time, law firms and OHS regulators release statements and good OHS advice about the risks of Christmas and end-of-year work parties.  But companies who wait until now to introduce control measures and policies for the risks of occupational violence, sexual harassment and reputational damage have, largely, missed the opportunity to effectively manage these risks.

The need to enforce safe behaviours at work functions is not a seasonal process but one that is integral to the establishment of a safe workplace culture the year round.  This is not to say that a friendly reminder is not useful but, if managed well, it should be nothing more than a reminder.

Of all the OHS advice for parties, Workplace Health & Safety Queensland is most succinct:

  • “remind staff about workplace policies in particular bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination
  • serve alcohol responsibly
  • provide food and non-alcoholic drinks More…

Half price psychosocial hazard books 1

Rarely does SafetyAtWorkBlog recommend the purchase of books but Federation Press is offering 50% off any Willan Publishing titles through to 17 December 2010.  For those unfamiliar with this publisher, below are some of the titles that are relevant to occupational health and safety:

Safety Crimes by Steve Tombs and David Whyte

Workplace Violence by Vaughan Bowie, Bonnie Fisher and Cary L Cooper

Violence at Work by Martin Gill, Bonnie Fisher and Vaughan Bowie

There are many other titles concerning social issues which may be of relevance to some industrial sectors.

Kevin Jones

Note: SafetyAtWorkBlog occasionally receives review copies from Federation Press but with this special offer, a selection of books have been purchased.

CSR and public health 4

The recent conference of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) gave considerable attention to corporate social responsibility (CSR).  It could be argued that this shows the ASSE is years behind many others but it could also be argued that CSR has a practical longevity in workplace safety that may have faded in other CSR areas.

A recent article in Health Education, “Workplace health promotion within small and medium-sized enterprises” may provide some clues for forward planning on mental health, wellbeing and OHS.  The authors* write:

“There needs to be a clear distinction between activities focused purely on internal business management and those with a wider public health impact.  Consideration needs to be given to human resource policies and procedures, as these are beyond employees’ personal control, yet have a direct and indirect effect on their working life and the smooth running of the business they work for.”

This should give greater confidence to HR practitioners that the “soft sciences” of human resources are an important element of corporate wellbeing and profitability but there is also a clear indication from the article that various organisational elements need to “play well” with each other in order to achieve the potential benefits; More…

Lord Young OHS review welcomed by UK’s HSE 5

The latest podcast by the Health & Safety Executive includes an interesting interview with the chair of the HSE, Judith Hackitt.

Hackitt admits that any review of occupational health and safety needed

“someone who could look beyond the remit of the Health and Safety Executive and look at what the other factors are out there that create the problems that we all know only too well that create all the nonsense and the myths.”

Lord Young certainly looks at other factors such as over-enthusiastic legal firms but it is hard to not think that someone other than Lord Young could have undertaken the review and come out with a more constructive plan of attack.  In many ways his report confirms the misperceptions of OHS.  Lord Young says, in his report:

“…the standing of health and safety in the eyes of the public has never been lower, and there is a growing fear among business owners of having to pay out for even the most unreasonable claims. Press articles recounting stories where health and safety rules have been applied in the most absurd manner, or disproportionate compensation claims have been awarded for trivial reasons, are a daily feature of our newspapers.”

This says more about the UK media than it does about the OHS laws themselves.  Lord young is very light on his recommendations to curb or counter the inaccurate reporting by the media.  He recommends combining food safety and OHS:

“Promote usage of the scheme by consumers by harnessing the power and influence of local and national media.”

He should have gone further but that would require looking at issues such as accuracy in reporting and the UK media is notorious for beat-ups and entrapment.  UK newspapers feed on the “Yes Minister” absurdities of bureaucracy and when health and safety relates to children, in particular, they go all out. More…