A curious omission from NY Times well-being article in The Age

Another article reporting on Dr William Fleming’s workplace wellness research appeared recently in the New York Times, reproduced in some Australian newspapers like The Age (not available online). Newspapers are entitled to edit other newspaper’s articles for many reasons. Most tweaks are legitimate, but, in this case, The Age dropped an entire paragraph, which does not reflect the balance of the full NYTimes article.

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Are wellbeing programs “safe washing” their OHS performance?

First, there was brainwashing, then greenwashing and safewashing. Could the well-being industry be accused of safewashing? Has well-being had its day in the sun?

The first use of safewash to describe presenting occupational health and safety (OHS) information in a diffused truth was in the 2016 research paper by Sharron O’Neill, Jack Flanagan and Kevin Clarke, called “Safewash! Risk attenuation and the (Mis)reporting of corporate safety performance to investors” (abstract/summary available). It has turned up elsewhere since.

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Call for Industrial Manslaughter laws after more unnecessary deaths

It was inevitable that all States in Australia would end up with Industrial Manslaughter (IM) penalties related to occupational health and safety (OHS). Tasmania is the latest to start the consultation on these laws, and again, it has required a work-related tragedy to generate the outrage that seems required for such a push.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is reporting on the grief and outrage of Georgie Burt, one of the parents of

“….one of six children who died when a jumping castle became airborne at an end-of-year celebration at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport in 2021.”

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What was he thinking? A case study in risk assessment and intervention

Below is a video of a worker setting up their work area and dusting a retail sign. When one sees such videos or images, we naturally think, “What is he doing?” and “What was he thinking?” This article speculates on those questions and what could have been done.

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A call to arms on OHS

In early January 2024, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a commentary by Professor Alex Collie that illustrates the need to broaden our consideration of “traditional” and psychosocial hazards and well-being at work. The article is paywalled but worth obtaining a copy.

Collie‘s research is always interesting, and being published in the BMJ adds some clout to this call for activism.

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New Sexual Harassment Code is part of the workplace mental health transition

This month Safe Work Australia (SWA) released its Code of Practice – Sexual and gender-based harassment, which applies to almost all Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) jurisdictions. It is an important document for many reasons, not the least is to reduce, and hopefully to prevent, the potential for life-altering psychological harm. It is also important in the expansion of management areas traditionally managed through personnel departments to include OHS concepts and control measures.

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Dr Fleming’s well-being research has generated controversy, as it should

Dr William Fleming’s open-access article called Employee well‐being outcomes from individual‐level “Mental Health Interventions: Cross‐sectional Evidence from the United Kingdom” is receiving a lot of online and mainstream media attention, and rightly so. It is a robust piece of research from a sample of over 46,000 workers in 233 organisations. The article compares:

“…participants and nonparticipants in a range of common individual‐level well‐being interventions, including resilience training, mindfulness and well‐being apps. Across multiple subjective well‐being indicators, participants appear no better off.”

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