ZERO HARM STRIKES AGAIN?:
Recent response from a reader below – I can’t find any publicly available information about this – anyone else want to comment or confirm/deny?:
Our State Government in Queensland advocates Zero Harm. Nothing new there, however, it is amazing how different areas practice it.
My comment today is about our Department of Community Safety which is about to undergo a “Keelty Change”
Primarily what stinks is within the Fire Service.
The (Qld Rural Fire Service) QFRS has a set of employability standards which it has applied to its paid permanent firefighters, you know the heroic people who enter burning buildings and save men women children and the family pets.
These standards require a very high level of fitness especially as they are required to operate in SCBA etc.
A few years ago, the QFRS in it’s wisdom decided that part of its Corporate approach to removing risk of litigation was to introduce a Notifiable Conditions programme which was sold to the workforce as being a way of helping to manage medical conditions within the workforce. Many fear this programme as a veiled witch hunt to remove people that may become a litigation risk from their ranks.
The problem that they have created is that they are applying the same employability standards and Notifiable Conditions program on their 35000 Volunteer Bushfire Fighters. Anyone in the industry know that the volunteer fire services in Australia are made up of people who are of an average age of 50 with many in their 70′s and 80′s Many of these people are everyday Joes who have a farm or are simply banding together to help their neighbour in time of need. The honest upstanding volunteers have slowly started to tell Management ( whose collective brain is located in the emergency services complex in Kedron) of their medical backgrounds and one thing that has come to light is the cases of at least 2 long serving volunteer firefighters who have managed Diabetes and have had for decades. Since they have put up their hands, their conditions have been “reviewed” by this unseen “Staff Doctor” and the employability standards for permanent firefighters has been applied. These diabetics have now been instructed that they are no longer permitted to be active firefighters and are now only to be support members (effectively sandwich makers in their eyes). One of these Diabetics has a clearance from one of the lead diabetes specialists in Australia and still the service stands by its ZERO tolerance. This individual even attempted to have the case heard by the Anti Discrimination authorities and the service cam at him with their corporate legal team in tow and threatened that they would be seeking full costs, Subsequently the individual dropped the case following this intimidation. (and remember that this gentleman like the rest of the 35000 FREE SLAVE LABOUR is a volunteer who protects his community for LOVE).
This is an example of the Corporate ZERO mentality and people showing that as long as they protect themselves from Litigation they are meeting their duty to ensure a safe workplace. Sadly, all they will succeed in doing is making the workplace a more dangerous place as volunteers will hide their conditions and for those first line managers, the potential for death or serious injury skyrockets. At least if we have a management plan, (like they do in the real world) we know at the coal face what we have to deal with and we can employ the individual as befits their condition. Imagine if you will, the next stage will be to remove those with allergies because they may get stung by a wasp and go into anaphylaxis , then those who have a BMI over 30 because they may have a heart attack, oh and what about those over 50 because they may have a stroke. Guess what? We have now lost 80 percent of our FREE LABOUR, with little likelihood of replacing it with younger fitter specimens of human perfection.
Add to this, the same service still applies the rule of thumb for appliances for volunteers as build down to a price and not up to a standard. Our people are allowed to be on a fire ground which has a potentially high level of toxic gasses and particulates in the smoke with plain old P2 Dust masks etc etc
It’s enough to make the blood boil.