Vision for Safety in Australia

Vision for safety in Australia

By George Robotham

life savers flag I am in the final stages of preparing what will end up being an approx. 70 page e book on What It Means To Be An OHS Professional. I was thinking of finishing up with the following:

My vision for what an excellent approach to OHS in Australia looks like:

  1. We get rid of emotive terminology such as accident, cause and blame. Alternatives are available
  2. Get rid of Zero Harm approaches
  3. We finally come to the realization that the focus must be on Class 1, permanently life altering personal damage. Minor damage is not a good predictor of major damage
  4. We come to the realization that enterprise personal damage occurrence analysis is limiting and it is much better done on an industry basis. Industry taxonomies of Class 1 personal damage are the way to go
  5. We use modern adult learning principles to facilitate learning. Safety people must have excellent presentation skills and skills in facilitating problem solving groups
  6. We lose the focus on A.S. / N.Z.S. 4801 and develop robust safety management systems
  7. We have a well developed body of OHS knowledge to guide learning facilitation. Whilst the Safety Institute of Australia is to be commended for starting the process what has been developed so far needs more work
  8. We get rid of displacement activities in OHS. A displacement activity is something we do, something we put a lot of effort into but which there is no valid reason for doing it. Examination of the history of the industrial safety movement will reveal many examples of displacement activities.
  9. We develop sensible safety legislation that adds value and is easily interpreted
  10. All stakeholders are involved in decisions about OHS
  11. OHS paperwork is focused and succinct
  12. OHS approaches are simple and reality tested with the workforce
  13. Formal and informal leaders are trained in and practice Safety Leadership
  14. We realize the limitations of the risk assessment process
  15. Safety people need to realize they have to be lifelong learners
  16. Safety people need to realize the importance of and develop their communications and interpersonal skills. Safety people need an empathetic approach to others
  17. The impact of psychological and sociological approaches on safety need to be realized and learnt
  18. Teambuilding needs to be practiced in safety approaches
  19. There is a highly visible commitment to safety from many companies
  20. Audits are thorough and searching unlike the common cursory approach now
  21. Safety committees and representatives have meaty jobs to do and actually achieve something
  22. Communication must be face to face and relevant to the receiver
  23. Decrease the reliance on the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate and use positive performance indicators
  24. Safe working procedures are succinct and the workforce is involved in their development
  25. Safety people are committed to high ethical standards and excellence
  26. Safety people have skills in management of organizational change, quality management and project management
  27. Safety people have the skills to recognize and not be sucked in by the various safety fads that come along.

I (and I am sure many others) would be very interested in your comments – You can leave them in the comments section below:

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below