• Peter Bateman
    In each edition we pose three questions arising from material in that edition. We print an edited selection of responses in the next edition (no names). FYI, here are the questions from the July/Aug edition.

    Q: Looking beyond seeing patients, how could occupational physicians best be involved in the strategic management of risks to workers’ health?

    Q: Steph Dyhrberg says H&S practitioners need to acknowledge sexual harassment and bullying as legitimate workplace hazards to be dealt with. Do you agree? Why, or why not?

    Q: Nadine McDonnell argues that a safety culture can be regarded as healthy only if there is evidence of disagreements between workers and management over H&S and how these disputes have been resolved. How does this match with your experience?
  • Matt Sadgrove
    In relation to Nadine's view on a healthy culture I agree with her and would add the following: Culture is the symbols, beliefs and behaviours displayed by the leaders in the business that are absorbed by all levels of the structure by gravity/osmosis. A dynamic culture is one which fosters a practise of safe challenge so sometimes tense but progressive discussions can be had at all and between all levels of the business.
  • Tania Curtin

    I tend to agree with Nadine for the most part, though I don't know that there needs to be 'disagreements' as such.
    If there is evidence that workers raise H&S issues with management, that management responds to those concerns, and outcomes are reached that are satisfactory for all - I'd say that is one indication of a healthy culture.
    I believe the organisation must genuinely empower all workers to speak up about H&S matters without fear of reprisal, listen to those concerns with genuine interest and concern, and work collaboratively with the relevant workers to find appropriate solutions.
  • Jono Johnson
    Personally I would be extremely interested to see comments stating that sexual harassment and bullying are NOT legitimate workplace hazards that need to be dealt with - and the justification.
    Having just left a company that's had 6 such incidents in 24 months I fail to see how anyone can think these are not legitimate hazards.
    No-one gets up in the morning in the hope they are going to be bullied/harassed at work in the same way no-one gets ready to go to the pub of a Friday night hoping they're going to get stabbed in a fight.
    The risk to H&S on the job is quite obvious i.e. if a person is concentrating more on the bullying/harassment then of course they do not have their minds front & centre on the job therefore the odds of the predictable happening are raised considerably.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    HSWA and its regulatory predecessors mandated that contractor safety must be addressed the same as for a PCBU's own workers. What provisions are there for when a PCBU bullies and harasses another PCBU (and its workers) it has contracted to carry out specified work for it?
  • TracyR
    Q3 I agree with Nadine McDonnell to a point. Having worked in various industries over the years I have found that when there are disagreements between workers and management generally management will adhere to a disputes or performance management processes. This is prevalent in the corporate environment. I have found dispute resolution more effective in a unionized environment as the employee will have a union rep assigned to them as a representative to support the employee as the management have the support of HR. Most successful program I have come across for dispute handling is where the company had trained certain members of staff as mediators who staff could call on to handle disputes. My recommendation would be to add mediation and facilitation training as part of core soft skills for the HSE reps and management as part of the learning an development program, providing time for workshops and meetings as required so that all staff feel that they have representation and a voice when it comes to health and safety disputes
  • Aaron Marshall
    After thinking about it, I have to agree with Nadine - there should always be that tension between safety and cost. I'm not sure if it is a sign of a 'safety culture' as such, but it is certainly a good sign that risk management is being properly carried out.

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