Economic opportunities in the need to comply

Standards Australia may have been going through difficult financial times but the company that sells the documents created by Standards Australia is doing very well.

The Australian Financial Review on 26 May 2010 (not available online) reported on the continuing growth of SAI Global and the increasingly important role it may play in the United States’s emphasise on compliance.  The AFR reports that the company receives 22% of its revenue from the US and growth in sales is tipped to reach 22% in 2009/10.  So it is a good investment option but its influence may also be important to note for those corporate OHS professionals who operate in a world of compliance, best practice and audits. Continue reading “Economic opportunities in the need to comply”

The risk of being over-policied

The latest OHS podcast from Boardroom Radio reinforces the need to enforce company policies.  The impliacation is that it is very easy to equate legislative compliance with the existence of a policy instead of the implementation of a policy.

The need to keep polices and procedures simple was mentioned but there is the risk that brevity does not necessarily equal clarity.  This links to earlier SafetyAtWorkBlog articles that discuss communication.  It is one thing to have rules, it is another to make sure workers know them and yet another to have faith that they are being implemented.  The emphasis on application and enforcement cannot be stressed enough. Continue reading “The risk of being over-policied”

Integrating safety in Lean/Six Sigma

At the recent Safety In Action Conference in Melbourne, Sia Evans was scheduled to speak about integrating safety into Lean/Six Sigma.   The management processes were known to me but I had not associated them with OHS management so her blending of the two was intriguing.

I arranged an interview with Sia a couple of weeks prior to her presentation having met her briefly some time before.  As we were having coffee on a balcony in sunny Melbourne we discussed a broad range of issues including the cultural impacts that Sia’s approach had achieved for her employer, Computershare.

She also showed how occupational health and safety can be improved in a workplace by not talking about occupational health and safety.  Sia’s training programs instilled the importance of safety in employees without some of the baggage that OHS training feels obliged to include.

The interview has been edited into a podcast that can be accessed below.

Please let us know of any issues or thoughts the interview may have raised and I will ask Sia to respond.

Kevin Jones

Artificial intelligence in safety

For safety management and the profession to progress, the information horizons must broaden.  Particularly in Australia, safety research runs the risk of developing upper-class chinless inbreds as, in many cases, it is divorced from reality and often does not look beyond the horizon both in distance or time.  But research work in other disciplines may have applications in the safety profession.

The work of a doctoral student at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Xun Wang, may provide some indication of new tools that safety & HR managers could be using in the future. Continue reading “Artificial intelligence in safety”

Gods and Leaders – the fantasy distraction of the safety profession

For years, safety professionals have whinged about their profession and their skills not receiving the attention of Chief Executive Officers and board members.  They take some solace in the occasional missive that executives understand leadership and, by extension, safety leadership but the reality is that OHS professionals do not understand CEOs.

CEOs are Olympian Gods and OHS professionals live amongst the crowd of citizens in the valleys.  Occasionally a God will go slumming and have sex with one of us but it does not mean that they respect us or, even that they will remember our name.  If we are lucky, they may remember that we were welcoming.

CEO attitudes were discussed in the Australian Financial Review on 21 May 2010, in an article about corporate governance Continue reading “Gods and Leaders – the fantasy distraction of the safety profession”

Lack of separation of pedestrians and forklifts results in $A24k fine

SafeWorkSA has released details of a successful OHS prosecution concerning forklifts, yet again.  But the full judgement has more management information than is usual and deserves to be read in full.

The circumstances, according to a media release (not yet available online) are

“…an incident… in August 2007 in which a 56 year old delivery driver tripped over the tines of a forklift which was about to exit the curtained doorway of a cold-room.”

The judgement in the South Australian Industrial Court expands upon the charge:

“… that Kerafi, being the occupier of a workplace, had failed to ensure so far as was reasonably practicable that means of access to and egress from the workplace was safe.   Continue reading “Lack of separation of pedestrians and forklifts results in $A24k fine”

The Astonished Manager: Not in my wildest dreams

Dr Yossi Berger of the Australian Workers Union has been reading some of the debate in SafetyAtWorkBlog and offered the article below for publication.  He said to SafetyAtWorkBlog

“…in relation to BP’s OHS catastrophes and comments about their management style, their managers and this aspirational, easily-bandied-about notion of workplace culture.  Two things stimulated me to put together this comment below: first, on the back of some 2000 workplace inspections across Australia and some internationally I have not detected this thing called ‘workplace culture’ other than as a cheap metaphor and ploy to manipulate; even if you chose to think of this phenomenon as ‘shared values and how we do things here’.   Secondly, there’s terrible and dangerous bullshit going on in relation to ‘personality cult’, ‘disconnect’ (‘no one told me’), and ‘it couldn’t happen here because we care’.”

Yossi Berger in Beaconsfield Mine

Continue reading “The Astonished Manager: Not in my wildest dreams”