Australian union campaigns on mine safety using Pike River mother

Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog suggested the need for a new approach to OHS advertising. Around the same time the Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU) launched the latest stage of its lobbying campaign against one of Australia’s largest mining companies, and a longtime target for unions, BHP BIlliton. This time the CFMEU connects the Pike River mining disaster with the safety performance of BHP Billiton; in some ways, an unfair connection.

Continue reading “Australian union campaigns on mine safety using Pike River mother”

A new approach to OHS advertisements is required in Australia

Workcover NSW should be supported in its new advertising campaign “Here to Help”.  Two ads are currently available on-line and are embedded below.  What is surprising is that OHS regulators still feel the need to create new awareness-raising campaigns rather than providing examples of the consequences of non-compliance.

It may be unfair to criticise an OHS regulator for an advertising campaign that raises the awareness of the need for safety, particularly if that ad is only the most visible element of a new enforcement strategy but it would be refreshing to see a different type of ad, one that speaks directly to business owners, with perhaps a similar one to workers.

What I see is an advertisement  similar to the famous Yul Brynner anti-smoking ad but with a script similar to this:

[Close up of head and shoulders of a businessman facing the camera.  Camera slowly pulls back as businessman speaks.] Continue reading “A new approach to OHS advertisements is required in Australia”

New OHS laws could change the management of quad bikes

Dr Tony Lower has written an opinion piece in the December 2011 edition of the Medical Journal of Australia (not available without a subscription however a related media release is) about farm safety.  One statistic he quotes says:

“In tractors, rollover fatalities have decreased by 60% after the introduction of regulations requiring compulsory rollover protection structures.”

The very successful introduction of rollover protection structures (ROPS) in Australia was given a major boost by OHS regulators offering substantial rebates for the fitting of ROPS on top of the regulatory requirements.  A safety “spoonful of sugar” as it were. Continue reading “New OHS laws could change the management of quad bikes”

Work-related suicide gains some fresh media recognition

On 4 November 2011, Victoria’s 7.30 program broadcast a heart-rending story about the suicide of a woman who, her mother believes, took this action after suffering chronic pain due a work-related incident and being given insufficient support from her employer and workers’ compensation bodies.  The story of Rebecca Wallis (spelling uncertain) apparently generated sufficient communication to the Australian Broadcast Corporation for 7.30 to undertake a follow-up and more broad look at the relationship between workers compensation and suicide.

One of the people interviewed in the 11 November 2011 program was John Bottomley of the Creative Ministries Network.  Bottomley has published several research reports on work-related deaths and suicides.  The figures he mentions in the report, that around 30% of the work-related suicides identified in his research had a “work injury or work-related mental illness” as a contributory factor, are included in the online publication from 2002, “Work Factors in Suicide“.  What is not mentioned is another statistic in his report:

“Nine people (8%) were on workers’ compensation when they committed suicide.” (page iii) Continue reading “Work-related suicide gains some fresh media recognition”

Some journeys should never be needed

Relatives of people who have died in workplaces regularly complain about the lack of communication from OHS regulators and other government and legal agencies who are charged with investigating an incident.  A recent example of this is Ann Maitland whose daughter, Michelle, died in a gymnastics class in 2009, but Ann Maitland took action and the safety level of gymnastics classes, and many other workplaces,  is likely to improve considerably as a result.

Prior to discussing the government’s report into gymnastics safety, it is worth acknowledging the arduous journey that Ann Maitland ( an occasional commenter on this blog) undertook.

In response to complaints by Ann Maitland, the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General engaged conducted an independent review of the actions of Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ)  in relation to Michelle Maitland’s death.  The review report found that

“A key deficiency highlighted by Mr Byrne was the inadequate communication with Ann Maitland. He further adds that “any similar situation in the future by the creation of the liaison officer position”. In this regard the Investigations Liaison Support Officer position was implemented in January 2011.”

There were several other recommendations from the review for WHSQ to tighten up enforcement procedures.  The fact that an independent review was conducted at all is a major win for Ann Maitland and other Queensland families.  The fact that such an independent review was required at all should be a matter of great concern. Continue reading “Some journeys should never be needed”

Free October 2001 safetyATWORK magazine

SafetyAtWorkBlog evolved out of an online publication, safetyATWORK.  In 2001, safetyATWORK published a special edition of the magazine focussing on the OHS issues related to the collapse of the World Trade Centre (WTC) in September 2011.  That special edition is now available as a free download through the cover image on the right.

The magazine contains:

  • an article by Lee Clarke on planning for the worst-case scenarios;
  • an interview with Peter Sandman,
  • an article by me, Kevin Jones,

and other articles concerning

Peter Sandman interview in the aftermath of 9/11

In November 2001, prominent risk communicator, Peter Sandman, examined the 9/11 attacks in a long article trying to clarify the impact and the context of the attacks.  Shortly after the attacks I had the chance to interview Peter Sandman for the online magazine I was then publishing, safetyATWORK.  Below is the text of that 2001 interview.

“SAW: As a resident of New Jersey and a risk communicator, what effect has the September 11 attacks had?

PS: I was very lucky. I live a sufficient distance away, that neither I nor anyone really close to me was lost. But lots of people close to people close to me were lost. Everybody in this part of the country is one or two steps removed from someone who died that day. But, professionally, I’m trying to think through, as I assume anybody in risk communication would be trying to think through what we can say to our countrymen and countrywomen about living in a dangerous world. This is obviously a situation where the outrage is entirely justified. The last thing I want to be doing is telling people they ought not to be outraged. But it’s also a situation where the hazard is serious. Most of my work is in either a high-outrage low-hazard situation, where the risk communication job is to reduce the outrage, calm people down; or a high-hazard low-outrage situation, where the job is to increase the outrage, get people to protect themselves. September 11 and its aftermath have to be described as high-hazard high-outrage. Neither paradigm works. And yet clearly the message to people has got to be you need to live your life. You need to take what precautions you can take and recognise that you’re not going to be completely safe and live your life anyway. You need to get on aeroplanes, and go to ball games. You need to go into big cities. I think in the months ahead people like me are going to be trying to figure out how to say that and say it honestly and honourably and credibly to a population that desperately needs to hear it and understand it. Continue reading “Peter Sandman interview in the aftermath of 9/11”