Death of a safety leader

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Last weekend Dr Eric Wigglesworth passed away after a long illness. Eric was a strong advocate for safety education and research over decades in Australia. I heard Eric speak several times in my professional career and remember being taught about his incident theories at university.

Over the last few years his profile has increased in the public sphere as he was the (only) Australian expert on the issues related to level crossing incidents.

Last weekend Dr Eric Wigglesworth passed away after a long illness.  Eric was a strong advocate for safety education and research over decades in Australia.  I heard Eric speak several times in my professional career and remember being taught about his incident theories at university.

Over the last few years his profile has increased in the public sphere as he was the (only) Australian expert on the issues related to level crossing incidents.

According to a media statement issued on behalf of the Safety Institute of Australia, in which Eric was an Honorary Fellow,

“Throughout the last 60 years, Eric has been at the fore of strategic thinking in applied accident prevention. While he had many, many interests, his work on railway level crossing accidents was his passion throughout much of his professional life. Reading the recent Victorian Government Report into level crossing accidents, you could be forgiven for thinking Eric was the only one to have input to the inquiry, given how often his opinions and ideas are quoted. It is yet another testament to how highly he was respected,” according to Dr Geoff Dell, Dean of the Safety Institute of Australia College of Fellows.

“Doubtless, the strongest tenet of his career was his often-voiced belief in the need for applied, researcher-driven safety research to underpin decision-making by industry and government, and to provide the basis for effective safety education.”

I have often been critical of Australia not having a safety figurehead.  Eric was the closest to such a position in academia.  Now Australia needs someone to take up the role and provide it with a public face.

Let’s hope that safety professionals don’t forget the pioneers of their discipline.

Kevin Jones

FUNERAL UPDATE

Eric’s funeral will be held on 27 march 2009 at the Monash University Religious Centre, Clayton Campus, at 10.00am.

 

OHS and Corporate Responsibility in Asia

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In 2000, Melody Kemp was interviewed for Safety At Work magazine about her experience monitoring Western corporations’ workplace safety in Asia. Below is an extract of that interview.

In 2000, Melody Kemp was interviewed for Safety At Work magazine about her experience monitoring Western corporations’ workplace safety in Asia.  Below is an extract of that interview.

The full interview is available by clicking the HERE.pages-from-2i5-melody-kemp-interview

Recently you were part of an international OHS inspection team in Indonesia. Can you tell us about that?

I guess the reason I became part of the team was that I was known to the social research group that we were working with.  First, Reebok, who we were working for, put the job out for tender, which was actually quite unusual.  Normally the other shoe companies tend to elect an international consulting accounting firm like Price Waterhouse or Ernst Young.  

The woman who took over the human rights job used to work for the Asian Foundation and she had a totally different set of beliefs.  She had a background in social activism and human rights, so she was interested in a different approach.  Being as independent as they could be they decided to take this opportunity. They subcontracted to a prominent social research group who have worked for World Bank and have a lot of status.

Also, they were all Indonesians while I was the only foreigner on the team but I also speak Indonesian.  A major factor was that we were all familiar with the language and culture.  They needed an OHS person, they preferred to work with a woman, and I was the only woman they could find in Indonesia with that mix of skills. 

Writer and commentator services

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Thanks to all those readers of SafetyAtWorkBlog, particularly those who make the effort to comment.

As well as these blog postings you will see articles appear in RTWMatters in support of its relaunched website as well as through the LabourStart website, a news site primarily for trade unionists and labour advocates.

There is also a nanotechnology safety article coming up in Safety Solutions magazine and some regular news contributions to the Employment Law Bulletin.

I am also proud of an article that was published by a prominent Australian business website Business Spectator and for the republication of a blog article to do with the Beaconsfield Mine at Crikey.com.

This may sound a lot of work but there is always room for more business and clients and as there is also a company to run.

On 19 March 2009 I spoke with Stephen Mayne (below on the right) at the 12th Annual Freelance Journalism Convention .

(L-R  Stephen Mayne and Kevin Jones hosting a workshop discussion athe 12th Freelance Journalism Convention on 19 March 2009)
(L-R Stephen Mayne and Kevin Jones hosting a workshop discussion at the 12th Freelance Journalism Convention on 19 March 2009)

If you like what you have read and have the opportunity for my writing services, please email me.

Kevin Jones

Nanotechnology safety campaign (with Interview)

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On 18 March 2009, Steve Mullins the OHS Officer with the Australian Council of Trade Unions presented a paper on nanotechnology hazards to the “Science Meets Parliament” forum.  His concerns over worker safety are not shared by the nanotechnology industry as media reports show but, as Steve points out, nanotechnology hazards have some interesting parallels with asbestos.

Below are the concerns that Steve has over the nanotechnology manufacturing industry in Australia:  

  • No regulatory acceptance that nanomaterials are more hazardous
  • No nano specific risk assessment or controls mandated
  • No nano specific monitoring equipment 
  • No nano specific MSDS
  • No exposure levels
  • No labels
  • No requirement to inform
  • No health surveillance
  • No training
  • No nano specific PPE
  • Where nano specific risk management applied or promoted, end up trying to apply controls designed for larger material anyway
  • There is no coordinated approach

An exclusive interview with Steve is available by clicking HERE.

Amanda Barnard

In 2008 Australian theoretical physicist Amanda Barnard was awarded the L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship.  Barnard is developing computational tools to predict the behaviour of nanoparticles in the environment.

An video report about Amanda Branard  is below.

April 28 – Workers’ Memorial Day

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memorial-poster-2009This annual event seems to receive more attention in Europe than elsewhere although over the years several Australian capital cities have erected workers’ memorial stones.  It is usually here that ceremonies occur.

I always attend these services in my own right as it helps to keep me grounded as I wade through risk assessments, policies, consultations, and other safety ephemera.

One of the chilling parts of the service is always the reading of those who have died over the previous twelve months.  This has echoes of the 9/11 recital each year but for the worker memorial there is a new set of names each year and a new set of families and a new round of grieving.

Please check your local town and city activities lists and attend this year’s event.

In support, the UK’s Hazards magazine has produced a simple but effective poster that can be downloaded.

Kevin Jones