SIAC 2011 Day 2 Wrap Up report

Wednesday, 30 March, 2011 - 11:00
Industry news

After an impressive Day 1, Day 2 of this year's Safety in Action did not fail to impress. Professor Niki Ellis, CEO, Institute for Safety Compensation & Recovery Research opened the day by challenging traditional OHS models, leaving many asking the question, what's in store for the future.

A packed day saw a full program of presentations across four streams including Contemporary Matters, Applied Innovation, OHS Professional as a Researcher, and International Trends, all providing delegates with key takeaways.

What's required to move forward? - Keynote Day 2

At present, we don't have a super duper evidence base, nor do we know if it is effective. Futures thinking goes deeper, deeper and deeper, challenging OHS professional thinking, said Professor Ellis.

A healthy questioning is what's required to move forward. Questioning as to whether what we are doing is working.

"I love people who are courageous and say it like it is", said Professor Ellis commenting on the simplicity of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill report.

Professor Ellis believes that the future will see less government domination and the development of partnerships between business and government to drive change in OHS.

"If we are going to meet the needs of the future of OHS we are going to have to look at different models", she said.  

Health for example will become a more prominent aspect of OHS in the future. "How well are our systems set up for health rather than injury, is it ‘fit for purpose?'", she said.

"A traditional OHS model sees the workplace and separates out the work related issues with the non work related issues".

It is business, and business leaders whom are recognising this need for change, and in the future, we will see a comprehensive approach where businesses share to generate industry knowledge and best practice.

Harmonisation - where to from here? - Contemporary Matters stream

Exploring ideas and challenging thinking, Eric Windolz, Associate of the Centre for Regulatory Studies, Monash University presented ‘The Evolution of Australia's Harmonised OHS Laws: Lessons for Today & Tomorrow where he  felt it was important to argue the need for people to give more consideration to the trade offs of harmonisation, such as innovation and experimentation.

"I am not against the model laws but question how confident we are that we have the right approach. Where will the innovative ideas come from and to what extent will the knowledge from the states be lost with a federal regime?", he said.

Barry Sherriff, Partner at Norton Rose Australia, presenting ‘Laws & Regulations: An Update', said we will only get it right in safety if everyone has a voice.

"The model laws provide a platform for the next generation of laws by bringing everybody together. It hasn't simply been a case of a few sitting in a room and then having some ministers sign off. It has been an extraordinary effort for over three years, which has seen a great number of people involved, from the regulator to industry bodies", he said.

Like most things, not everyone may agree with the new model laws but they do understand the process, and why we are doing it.

It is a journey and the fundamental underlying objective is safety.

Business of Safety survey reveals need for safety leadership training - Special Event

The 2011 Business of Safety survey launched at Safety in Action today revealed the urgent action required to improve safety culture at many workplaces.

At the forefront of this appeared to be the lack of communication between the varying levels of an organisation, drilled down, appears to be largely driven by the need for leadership training to ensure OHS personnel can better engage with top-level management and lower level personnel to drive workplace safety improvements.

The panel presentation between the Safety Institute of Australia Ltd, Australian Institute of Management and SafeSearch (who presented their findings from the 2010/11 Remuneration Survey),  gave OHS professionals an exclusive look at data which shows the need for management training and professional development across lead innovation, change, strategic planning and managing people and performance for the OHS professional.

Positively, members can look forward to later in 2011 when the Safety Institute of Australia Inc will present management training courses, developed in conjunction with the Australia Institute of Management (AIM), designed specifically for the safety professional. These courses will be run by AIM and additional information will be provided when available.

More than EAP - Applied Innovation stream

If you think depression is the highest form of mental disorder affecting employees you would be wrong, according to Danni Hocking, Therapy Solutions (VIC) Pty Ltd.

"Anxiety is the highest form of mental disorder in Australia costing workplaces $4.3M in lost productivity", Ms Hocking said.

The days of employee health and wellbeing being the responsibility of the individual are well and truly over. With workplace stress now costing Australian businesses an estimated $14.81M, the question must be asked, ‘how do you implement wellness strategies into your organisation?'.

"You don't have to reinvent the wheel", Ms Hocking said. "Identify psychological hazards, assess risks and implement controls".

Blind spots - using computer vision to alert drivers of potential collisions - OHS Professional as a Researcher stream

The 3-minute thesis delivered a fascinating presentation on situational awareness for industrial vehicles - blind spots, vehicles and people: a dangerous combination.

Crucial to ensuring safety of personnel and equipment, Paulo Borges, Research Scientist, CSIRO, described a system that uses computer vision to identify people where vehicles cannot see them (blind spots) to alert the driver of potential collisions.

Worksites that are heavily populated by vehicles and people, there is a high safety concern regarding path conflicts, in particular when vehicles and pedestrians are obscured from each other in ‘blind spots'.

According to Mr Borges, they have implemented a system for enhancing safety in industrial environments. Analysing the information on the vehicles and pedestrians positions, the risk of collision can be estimated with a path and prediction algorithm.

Further research is intended to include storing information about pedestrians and vehicle movements for further analysis to improve site safety procedures.

Is it a good model? Did it reduce accidents? - International Trends stream

"There appears to be a lack of clarity around what they mean by good safety behaviour', said Ronny Lardner, Director & Chartered Occupational Psychologist, The Keil Centre Limited.

During his session ‘Testing the validity and reliability of a safety culture model using process and occupational safety performance data', Mr Lardner explored a case study that looked at whose behaviour made the most difference to safety performance.

It needs to be clear, "What behaviour is expected from people within their roles, be it mangers, supervisors or front line staff".

"Clearly differentiating which behaviours apply to everyone and which apply to specific roles is what sets an organisation that always appears to get it right, apart from those who are mediocre", he said.

The Safety in Action conference will run across three days from 5-7 April 2011 at the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre where delegates will hear from over 50 speakers.