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‘Employers are going to get hurt’, warns health and safety veteran

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HC Online | 23 Nov 2015, 08:00 AM Agree 0
An expert in the field of occupational health and safety told HC that the wellbeing of workers in Australia is increasingly being put at risk.
  • Cathy Knight | 23 Nov 2015, 12:51 PM Agree 0
    Good on you for speaking out! As a HR Manager at one time responsible for Health & Safety in an operational environment (with plenty of professionals as well), my efforts to focus on the "health" aspect, specifically 'wellbeing', were largely ignored. I felt like Robinson Crusoe.
  • Bernie Althofer | 24 Nov 2015, 12:23 PM Agree 0
    Australians in general are a fairly trusting lot. We seem to take people on face value and place a lot of trust on what they say they can do.

    I have previously presented on the topic of Accreditation. At the time, it appeared that a number of investigations had been conducted regarding the issuing of licenses. In some cases, these licenses allowed the operators to use certain heavy machinery. In addition, there were some connections identified between the issuance of drivers licenses and 'criminal gangs'. In another case, a person presented 'falsified' qualifications to secure a senior position within the medical profession. In recent times, I have been alerted to a 'health and safety person' placing red marks in rooms to 'check whether or not the rooms were being cleaned daily' when the cleaning schedule states 'monthly cleaning of walls'.

    I suspect that in some cases, the mention of health and safety conjures up the need to create additional paper and ongoing talks and checks. As the focus seems to have been on safety, health and even wellbeing drops of the radar. In some cases, health/safety and wellbeing issues such as bullying have been kicked around the organisation because it was not seen as a health and safety issue, let alone a wellbeing issue. In some cases, 'bullying' even had a name change to harassment, to negative workplace behaviours to positive workplace behaviours.

    Unfortunately, in some cases, the approaches that may have been taken in some organisations created a perception or belief that health and safety did not add to operational benefits, and therefore was not seen as mainstream. For example, an organisational wide assessment resulted in responses from senior management to show that 'safety - that's not my job, that's why I pay the safety co-ordinator'. If you go out to conduct such an assessment and your findings are not what the 'organisation' expects, then you may find yourself on the outer with no where to go, except out the door.

    I suspect that for some managers and workers at all levels, health safety and wellbeing is not clearly spelled out in their terms of employment or contract. As such, they may argue that it is someone's job. It seems to me, that in some cases, health safety and wellbeing is seen as 'someone else's job' and the main reason is that managers and workers are not made responsible or held accountable through other HR systems and processes e.g. performance management.
  • | 27 Nov 2015, 09:44 PM Agree 0
    The day the JSA became a Management Tool instead of a workers tool to look for NEW Real Time Hazards the workplace Risks are not getting the focus they deserve to ensure they are controlled before the Task begins. This is a Fact supported by most workers.
    Regardless of all else the JSA tool needs to return to "The best Workers Safety Tool ever"
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