Similarities between the regulation of environmental and workplace safety

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In June 2011, Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) released a revised Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) policy.  There seemed to be some similarities to WorkSafe’s C&E policy, developed in 2006, so SafetyAtWorkBlog spoke this afternoon to John Merritt, who became the CEO of the EPA in early 2010 after many years as the executive director of WorkSafe Victoria.

In an exclusive podcast with SafetyAtWorkBlog Merritt, a major participant in the development of both policies, provides a useful insight into

  • Why a revised C&E policy was necessary
  • The similarities of environmental and workplace safety enforcement
  • How WorkSafe enforcement lessons can be applied to environmental protection
  • The cooperation between government agencies
  • Balancing transparency and information provision
  • EPA’s use of social media
  • Maintaining a local focus in a world of global environmental challenges

The podcast should be of interest to those professionals who need to manage the, often competing, business elements of environmental, safety and health obligations.

Kevin Jones

Interview with Kevin Jones

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In a few weeks time SafetyAtWorkBlog will be reporting on the Safety in Design, Engineering and Construction conference to be held in Melbourne.  The conference organisers interviewed me on my thoughts on workplace safety.  The interview is available HERE but you may need to provide your contact details.

The odd thing about the interview is that a safety conference organiser chose me for the interview yet I am not a speaker at the conference they are organising.  IQPC is the company and the August conference in Melbourne is Safety in Design, Engineering & Construction 2011.

Excerpt:

Construction IQ

“It’s very nice to have you here. Now, as a commentator on safety and OHS, you’d know that there’s a lot of talk surrounding the Harmonisation process. How do you think the legislation will change the OHS landscape, and do you think there are any particular areas that will translate into normal practices across all work sites?”

Kevin Jones

“No, I think it will have a particular impact on national companies, those that operate across jurisdictions, so it will be very important to them because that’s where the cost savings are meant to be coming from by reducing the administrative duplication, but that deals with only about 5% to 10% of companies in Australia.  For those companies that operate within just a single state jurisdiction, Harmonisation isn’t going to impact them overly much.  There are going to be some changes to the state legislation because the national model legislation has to be implemented at each State level, so individual States will see some changes. But those changes, by and large, are not radical in terms of how safety is managed.  It’s certainly a considerable shock for some companies – particularly on issues of union right of entry and prosecutions and those sorts of things – but if you have a look at the management of safety in a work site, I don’t think the Harmonisation process is going to change the way it is controlled and managed.”

In my experience many conferences produce a “teaser”, in audio or video, of the keynote speakers, in particular.  This is intended to generate some enthusiasm for the conference in order for people to register but it also introduces speakers with whom the audience may be unfamiliar.  As with any advertising it is difficult to quantify the benefits of such strategies but with the phone interview mentioned above, there is little cost other than 10 minutes of time, once the recording process is established, and so perhaps the return on investment is not of great significance.

Kevin Jones

Radio National OHS program

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On 21 September 2010, Radio Australia’s regular program Australia Talks conducted a live interview concerning occupational safety and health.

For those who have been listening to the show for some time would have been surprised that the program covered much of the same old OHS ground.  Similar statistics, similar questions of what are the most dangerous occupations, similar assumptions and the same misunderstanding that discussions about OHS law are the same as discussions on safety management. Continue reading “Radio National OHS program”

BBC podcast on UK’s OHS review

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The BBC’s radio program, Politics UK, for 18 June 2010 includes an uncredited discussion on the OHS review announced by Prime Minister Cameron recently.  The discussion occurs at the 20 minute mark of the podcast which is available to download for a short time.

Much of the content seems to reflect the thoughts and comments of The Telegraph article by Philip Johnston but at least the BBC reporter acknowledges that the issue is not really health and safety but the “fear of litigation”.

There is an interesting reference to the “goldplating” of European Union directions and the issue of food safety and cheese is mentioned.  The impression given is that the more significant and, perhaps, the more difficult challenge for Lord Young is not OHS but the “compensation culture”.  If this is the case, OHS may come off the worse of the two as it may be given a secondary priority.

Kevin Jones

Integrating safety in Lean/Six Sigma

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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