OHS needs to ride the ESG wave

The current Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) movement can be seen as the latest iteration of companies and business owners reflecting on the broader purposes of running a business.  An earlier manifestation of this reflection was Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  ESG and CSR are similar perspectives from different times but with a fundamental continuity.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is integral to CSR/ESG/Sustainability considerations but is often overlooked or considered as a business add-on, a situation that has been allowed to persist by the OHS profession, Regulators and others over many decades.

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Mental health prevention is still glossed over

The latest edition of CEO Magazine contains a brief report of a workplace mental health breakfast seminar. It is written by John Karagounis, the CEO of the CEO Circle, the host of the seminar. Prominent speakers included Julia Gillard, Paul Howes and Georgie Harman, all associated with beyondblue. The prevention of mental ill-health at work is only inferred in this article, which reflects the dominant, and limited, perspective of most of the mental health sector. A deeper and broader analysis of workplace mental health is deserved.

However, the article included two statements of note. Clarification is being sought on this Karagounis statement:

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What employers need to know: the legal risk of asking staff to work in smokey air

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The following article is reproduced from the excellent academic communication website The Conversation, and is written by Elizabeth Shi, a Senior Lecturer, in RMIT University‘s Graduate School of Business and Law. The article is a very useful contribution to managing the risks of working in smokey environments but is only one contribution to a discussion on occupational health and safety in smokey workplaces that has many, many months to go.

Amid thick bushfire smoke in cities including Canberra and Melbourne, employers need to consider their legal obligations.

Some have directed their workers not to turn up in order to avoid to occupational health and safety risks. Among them is the Commonwealth department of home affairs which last week asked most of its staff to stay away from its Canberra headquarters for 48 hours. Other employers want to know where they stand.

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Auditors and Exorcists

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This article was originally published in the SafetyAtWork magazine in March 2002, has been slightly edited with new links included. It is surprising how slow progress in the auditing sector has been, supporting some of the points raised in the Brydon Review.

The Enron saga means many things to many people. Some see the collapse as a result of greed, others as an inevitable result of US corporate capitalism, yet others focus on the political ramifications of the collapse. From a distance and in the context of workplace safety and risk management, the saga can be seen as a wake-up call for all businesses.

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Auditing the auditors

In the wake of several corporate collapses, the UK Government commissioned a review of the business auditing sector. In 2019, the final report of the Brydon Inquiry was released recommending substantial changes to auditing. Occupational health and safety (OHS) is increasingly considered as part of corporate governance so these recommendations have a direct effect on OHS management and reporting.

This report is relevant to Australia for many reasons, principally, because the audit firms that were scrutinised by Donald Brydon operate here.

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