In February 2012, the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) released a research report into the efficacy of crush protection devices (CPDs) on all-terrain vehicles or, more accurately, quad-bikes. The report summary states that
“Experimental tests conducted by the University of Southern Queensland indicate that the Quad Bar CPD is capable of either preventing a complete roll, or modifying the roll event to reduce the risk and severity of injury to the rider for both side roll and back flip scenarios. These results highlight the potential for CPDs such the Quad Bar to reduce rider injuries and fatalities resulting from low speed roll over incidents;”
Great news for the manufacturer of the Quad Bar. However the report is damning of some research into quad bike rollovers, particularly that which has been relied on by the quad bike manufacturers to resist the application of CPDs.
In Star Wars, Han Solo and other major characters express their gut feeling about various situations. In traditional risk management parlance, that “gut feeling” would equate to subjectivity, an element of decision-making that needs to be minimised in risk management if not eliminated. This has been sought through various statistical analysis tools, risk nomograms and rational approaches to risk. But all decision-making has an element of the emotional, the subjective, the gut-feeling. This position was emphasised recently in a presentation in an OHS conference by Dr David Brooks who described risk management as an art as well as a science.
The information that safesearch has released on its annual salary survey of Australian OHS professional salaries included several curious statements. In media statements released in mid-February 2012 the following was attributed to an interpretation of the survey results:
“… a brain drain triggered by the mining boom has forced employers in other sectors to increase salaries for safety professionals”
“… it appears that companies [in the mining sector] are now being more strategic in their approach by putting an emphasis on their HR and employee branding strategies rather than simply throwing more dollars at the problem”
“The angst surrounding the failure of OHS harmonisation may be overstated, as findings from the safesearch remuneration survey released today show top safety professionals have other priorities….. The majority of respondents said the biggest issue facing organisations was the difficulty in driving the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) message to all levels of organisations, to promote safety culture and leadership commitment to HSE.”
It has certainly been the case that Australia’s mining boom has created a shortage of skilled workers. Whether this has extended to HSE professionals is uncertain.
WorkSafe Victoria’s Executive Director – Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth mentioned one of the necessary economic choices faced by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) when speaking at a breakfast seminar in early February 2012. He said that HSE is
“…under the pump politically [and] I think they’re either just, or about to, press the button on inspectors charging 133 pounds per hour for their workplace visits……If they find an issue they will be charging the employer 133 quid an hour and they hope to make 10 million pounds out of that”
The concept of fee for intervention (FFI) was new to most in the seminar audience and it needed more explanation and context although the seminar imposed tight time constraints. Given the economic status of the United Kingdom such cost recovery methods are logical, if unpalatable.