The media is full of lists of Christmas reading, usually in order to sell books. Below is a selection of the safety-related books that are in my Summer reading pile. (No, I am not going to list the Batman comics or Star Trek books. That would be embarrassing.)
I first met Robert Sams at a book launch of one of the Rob Long’s books. Sams’ approach to risk has some similarity to Long’s, which is acknowledged in the Forewards, but those who develop or apply a theory are often more interesting than those who created the theory. The the format of the book is a “reflective journal” also makes this nook more intriguing. It is part diary, part blog, part journal but above all it is a journey of learning with the occasional epiphany. More…
The Herald-Sun newspaper has released the final report into the mental health and suicide rate of Victorian metropolitan firefighters.
The report, authored by Dr Peter Cotton, found that the issues uncovered in the review of firefighters in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) are not dissimilar from the findings of other inquiries into emergency service organisations like the police or the ambulance service. More…
I have purchased Kevin Burns’ book “PeopleWork” after receiving an email promotion but before I did I followed the link to his website and watched an embedded video where Kevin says:
“At no time in history have there been better processes and procedures in workplace safety and at no time in history have there been more certified safety professionals but at the same time the number of workplace incidents keep rising across the board.”
Any salesman is allowed some hyperbole but the last point does not stack up and is a bit confusing. For instance workplace fatalities have been declining in Australia for some decades but new work-related hazards are being acknowledged and existing hazards that were once dismissed are now being addressed. The number of certified occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals is irrelevant as the laws have existed for much longer and it is the laws with which employers must comply, not the advice of the OHS professional.
But Kevin Burns talks specifically about the number of workplace incidents and this is almost impossible to quantify.
Just after I purchased Kevin’s book I received a research paper entitled “Creating a Culture of Prevention in Occupational Safety and Health Practice” by Yangho Kim, Jungsun Park and Mijn Park. That paper quotes 1998 research and says: More…
More details are appearing of the findings of an independent inquiry into mental health and suicides in the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), a report whose release has been stalled by the United Firefighters’ Union (UFU).
According to the inquiry’s chair, in an article in the ABC news website, Dr Peter Cotton,
“…the MFB has a mono-culture with few women or members from diverse backgrounds, making it difficult to assess the level of bullying and harassment.”
“… the MFB does not screen for alcohol or drug use, and has a lack of policies and procedures to address drug and alcohol issues.”
“Management’s handling of complaints were found to be ad hoc and inconsistent with a “lack of will to follow up” and “give them a wide berth” thought pattern.”
“the mental health of firefighters was comparable with Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria,…”
The latter point is useful to remember as a similar report into the Victoria Police was released earlier this year. The most recent inquiry into Ambulance Victoria was undertaken by the Victorian Auditor-General in 2016. More…
Australia’s emergency services have had several reviews into accusations of workplace bullying, harassment, mental health or suicides. Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) is the latest to undergo this type of review but the United Firefighters Union (UFU) is not happy about the release of the final report, which was due out today. If the final report is consistent, a dysfunctional safety culture will be found.
According to a report in the ABC news website, the review was
“…headed by clinical psychologist Dr Peter Cotton, who wrote a similar report for Victoria Police.” [link added]
SafetyAtWorkBlog readers may recall that an earlier article on psychologically healthy workplaces included this mention of Dr Cotton
“[Dr Chris] Stevens is not blind to the shortcomings of some of the trends in the area of psychologically healthy workplaces. He agreed that the modern workplaces and workers are subject to over-diagnosis of mental health issues and paraphrased some of the work of Dr Peter Cotton who estimated around 30% of workers compensation claims for psychological injury relate to low morale and not psychiatric diagnosis.”