Media Release - Zero Harm, A slogan for the CEO

Monday, 11 August, 2008 - 10:00
Industry news


The only way to get money out of a CEO for business that's otherwise been ignored for OHS, is to create a slogan (Zero Harm) that is appealing to the CEO, according to Andrew Douglas, Principal at Macpherson + Kelley Lawyers.

Speaking ahead of the SIA's Safety in Action conference in Melbourne, Douglas said the language of safety and the importance of engaging with ones workforce will be the only way to achieve the best in OHS.

"Safety practitioners, as they move towards professionalism, have developed a language and style, just as lawyers have done in the past, which is meaningless to many of the people who have to operate it."

Andrew believes that to achieve the best in OHS, employees must be engaged in, and own the model being applied.

"The language of safety has become so impenetrable."

It would appear that workers have trouble keeping up with the new language around safety. Acronyms are in a constant state of revision and safety must find a new language which is understood by the people who work on the floor, Douglas said.

In the last 5 years, there has been growth in OHS legislation, which imposes liability directly on directors and CEOs. "These leaders are reaching out to safety."

"The only way to get money out of a CEO for business that's otherwise been ignored for OHS, is to create a slogan that is appealing to the CEO. And we got ‘zero harm'."

Yet without definition of ‘zero harm', the workforce is being disenfranchised, Andrew said.

Employees know from life experience that the best laid plans can still injure people. In his experience, Andrew has seen that workers in those environments totally distrust the management argument that all injuries are preventable.

"Leaders must lead honestly, with integrity and predictability, and it must be achievable."

In the instance of ‘zero harm', it does not necessarily mean zero injuries, he said.

"Admit this is an aspirational goal, that there will be real measurements at the floor level. Grow ideas from the workers rather than imposing it from above."

Douglas will be among 50 speakers at the Safety in Action conference presented by the Safety Institute of Australia Ltd at the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre, from 5-7 April. For more information visit .

For additional information, please contact:

Kate Telfer - Media Liaison
Safety Institute of Australia Ltd (SIA)

Ph: (03) 8336 1995   

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