Why have OHS

George’s Safety Reflections

Why have OHS

The first fatality I was associated with occurred over 30 years ago to a young, vivacious, pleasant female office employee at a mine site. I was the first on the scene and comforted her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. She died the next day, such a waste!

Since then I have assisted my employers manage the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other incidences of permanently life altering personal damage.

There are many reasons to have OHS-

  1. Sure we want to obey the legislation and keep the regulators off our back
  2. Sure we want to have a good company and industry reputation to attract employees
  3. Sure we want to reduce safety related industrial disputation
  4. Sure we want to reduce the financial costs of “accidents”
  5. Sure we want work to be a pleasant place to be
  6. Sure we want a highly skilled workforce

As an OHS professional I have had to deal with the emotional trauma of life altering personal damage and interacted with loved ones and co-workers. For me the prime reason to have OHS is to-


This is referred to as Class1 personal damage and can be fatal and non-fatal. Whilst we rarely get to hear about it the impact of non-fatal class 1 damage is much higher than fatal class 1 damage

I would be the first to say there is a lot of bull-dust associated with implementation of safety initiatives. In my time in safety I have seen companies spend tremendous amounts of time, effort and money on dubious safety programs and get little return for their investment.

The challenge is to design your safety programs so they meet the specific, identified needs of your organization.

Discussion on a Canadian safety forum came to the conclusion that you would be lucky to prevent 20% of your ”accidents” if all you did was comply with legislation

I think one of my ex-managers said it well when he said “If you cannot manage safety you cannot manage”


My attempt to give advice on how to achieve my objective can be found in the e-book Safety Management Systems under articles on www.ohschange.com.au

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.

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