Sometimes marketing gets in the way of OHS information

The internet and social media are peppered with articles that are ostensibly about occupational health and safety (OHS) and psychosocial health and wellbeing but are really marketing exercises. These things pop up frequently on LinkedIn. A recent example is from Lyra Health called “Workforce Mental Health Trends for 2023: Top 3 Predictions“. You can see from the title why I would be interested in obtaining the full survey report.

I chose not to download the company’s survey for the following reasons.

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Give me a young worker, and I can make them safer for life*

Trade union membership in Australia has declined to its lowest level ever of 12.5%, according to an article in The Age newspaper (paywalled) on January 6 2023. The experts mention several demographic factors that have resulted in the persistent decline. Even though trade unionists publicly state that worker health and safety is often their top priority, they never seem to use occupational health safety (OHS) in their marketing of union membership.

This article does not suggest that OHS be bastardised for commercial purposes or that the primary responsibility for safe work does not reside with the employer. Still, union membership may be purchased for a young worker, in particular, perhaps by parents or concerned relatives to assist in keeping their loved ones safe at work.

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Zombies, Ghosts and OHS

This holiday season, in between new Val McDermid and Michael Connelly detective novels, I have dipped into a small book called “Zombie Ideas – Why Failed Policy Ideas Persist” in my quest to understand why occupational health and safety (OHS) is not as influential on companies and public policies as I think it should be.

The book is less than 60 pages but dense with ideas that I need a discussion group to fully understand, but there are some useful concepts that may help clarify the policy role, settings and effects of OHS and workers’ compensation.

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C-Suite is disinterested in OHS

Consulting firm KPMG has released its annual survey report on the concerns of corporate executives called “Keeping us up at night – The big issues facing business leaders in 2023”. Occupational health and safety (OHS) fails to get a mention. (So much for the attitudinal impact of Industrial Manslaughter laws!) But then neither does “mental health” nor “sexual harassment“.

The KPMG report may accurately reflect executive priorities, but it may also reflect a denial of reality.

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The wicked problem of the safety of shearers and the viability of sheep farming

Shearing sheep is an exhausting laborious job and so can cause work-related injuries for which workers’ compensation can be sought. The Weekly Times on January 4 2023 (paywalled) devoted a whole page to the issue in an article headlined “The shear cost of it all”. (Only a companion piece is available online at the time of writing)

The aim of the article seems to be to illustrate the exorbitant and unfair workers’ compensation costs faced by the employers of shearers, but some relevant occupational health and safety (OHS) matters are overlooked.

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Serious questions about WorkSafe Victoria’s financial sustainability

Shortly after Christmas 2022, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) released an article about the financial status of the Victorian Workcover Authority. The article was about a 2020 review of the financial sustainability of the workers’ compensation scheme by insurance and actuarial firm, Finity. This was built upon in a couple of mainstream newspapers.

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Worker’s compensation explained in new social welfare book

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is an integral element of social welfare, even though the practitioners of the discipline self-silo. A new Australian book about Australia’s social services uses workers’ compensation and OHS as a case study for a change.

The Careless State – Reforming Australia’s Social Services” by Mark Considine illustrates the Venn Diagram overlap of public health services, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), aged care services, workplace safety and compensation and more. The book is very timely, as many of the social services essential for social harmony and justice have been neglected over the last decade under various State and Federal conservative governments.

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