2017 Year in Review creates anxiety and calls for action

Last week in Sydney and Melbourne law firm Clyde & Co conducted seminars reviewing 2017 through the workplace health and safety perspective.  Alena Titterton (pictured right) hosted the Melbourne event which did not follow the proposed topics, but it was friendly and informative, and covered a lot of ground.

This article focuses on the statistics presented in the Year in Review document and some commentary from Titterton.

(An exclusive conversation with Titterton is to be in the next episode of Safety At Work Talks podcast)

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What do Weinstein, Spacey and others have to do with OHS?

“Then I went, ‘Oh hang on, I’ve normalised so much of this as part of my industry…. This last three months has really made us all take a long hard look at what we have even let ourselves think is acceptable.” – Sacha Horler

Such a statement is familiar to those working in the field of occupational health and safety (OHS).  This normalisation, or habituation, has underpinned much of the discussion of what builds a safety culture – “the way things are done round here”.  As a result of revelations and accusations pertaining to

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Australia the first stop on international roadshow over safety management Standard

The latest safety management standard ISO45001 will be active in a few months’ time.  It is the first international Standard in occupational health and safety (OHS), a fact supported by the length of time and horse-trading that has occurred in its development.  It will be an important OHS document for many countries as, for some, it is a first.  For Western countries, like Australia, New Zealand and Britain, ISO45001 is the latest in a long line of safety management standards, so the hype is more muted.

The new features of this Standard have been outlined in

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Measure the old, plan for the new

“What gets measured, gets done” is a common phrase in corporate-speak but needs to be treated with caution in terms of occupational health and safety (OHS).

In The Australian newspaper of October 5 2017 (paywalled) an article about remuneration and innovation includes a brief but telling discussion of the perception of OHS.

Sylvia Falzon is a director of the companies Perpetual and Regis Healthcare.  The article states that Falzon is a

“great believer that ‘what gets measured gets done”.

However, this belief has important limitations. 

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Is the future of OHS based on a flawed past?

It seems that we are constantly being urged to innovate, to be creative and to think differently.  This is equally true in the discipline of occupational health and safety (OHS), but part of thinking differently in the future should also involve reassessing the past.

It is often said that many the OHS performance indicators, predominantly Lost Time Injury (LTI) calculations, have shown a “plateau-ing” of safety performance.  From this common position, companies have moved to new OHS training strategies that involve behaviours, values, cultural norms, safety culture and other employee and organisational recalibrations.  But what if the case in support of these strategies was not as strong as first thought?  What if the “plateau-ing” did not exist or the increase in performance was not as strong as the LTI-based data seemed to indicate?

Academics,

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