OHS – A Change of Focus

Phil Hart from Annecto – the people network, shares an interesting article that advances the responsibility of OHS into our daily lives with a change of focus. Annecto is an independent, not for profit association committed to enhancing the quality of life for people with a disability, older persons and their carers. Annecto connects individuals in the community through community initiatives, care and support.

Thank you Phil, your message in the following article is a true reflection of Annecto’s focus on helping people.

Why do we view occupational health and safety as a problem at work and trying to get people enthused to take up the cause is almost impossible? Is it because our policies and procedures dictate what we have to do to the extent that we become robots and are not given the chance to discuss other options?

Focusing on OHSLook at it this way, take the word occupational out of the equation and replace it with the word wellbeing so that you have health, safety and wellbeing and it immediately changes the focus from occupational to something a bit more personal.

When you use the word occupational it is related to the occupation, something you collect when you start work and leave behind when you finish work. If you are unfortunate to be injured at work it is not something that only relates to your occupational time, it is something that is with you 24/7.

So let’s focus on the 24/7 approach of health safety and wellbeing. When you are at home there are unwritten ground rules like you spill something you clean it up, but when at work you do not do it. Is it because rigid policies and procedures dictate what we do, and it is not included in your job description? Or is that there is a blame policy within the organisation? At home we look out for each other, but get to work and we don’t give a rats.

To give you an example, someone spilled coffee on the floor and didn’t clean it up. Another person slipped on the spilt coffee and ended up fracturing her back and has been in agony for the last 10 months. When you speak to this person and listen to how it has affected them and their family it is heartbreaking. The injury is 24/7 not just restricted to work hours, and in hindsight the person who spilled the coffee wished they had cleaned it up.

My induction for new employees focuses on this story (not policies or procedures) and the importance of looking out for each other because if we don’t one day it may be you that is on the receiving end. I ask them how it would affect their life if they were seriously injured, or how they would cope, physically, mentally and financially if a family member was seriously injured.

In changing the focus, people are beginning to see the importance of health and safety and it certainly makes it easier to get them involved. Health, safety and wellbeing is discussed at all levels, not so much through committees but through every meeting that is held throughout the organisation as health, safety and wellbeing is a standard agenda item.

Health, safety and wellbeing has become part of our work, and our theme of looking out for each other is changing the approach in the organisation, and as it is a case of continuous improvement, we still have a long way to go.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (5)

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  1. Noeline Moore says:

    What an excellent article.The message that what affects you at work will also affect you at home is one that I endeavour to get across at both our Orientation and mandatory training sessions.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Tommy Adebayo says:

    I think it makes more sense to make Safety more of an internalised value like honesty, trust and integrity.So that regardless how the quality of our work is if we fall short of company safety expections we should feel insulted. I am guilty myself of always talking about compliance with OHS policy and procedures when doing induction for new employees. From now on i will be more personal in terms of asking inductee what they think the consequence from an accident will cause and cost to them.


  3. Mary Laffan says:

    Thank you for this article. When teaching OHS in a program that promotes working holistically with client issues and self care,the personalised view offered by Phil Hart aligns perfectly. It seems also that when we can relate personally to information we are more likely to take it on board. Most students dislike studying OHS and see it as a burden so thanks for the focus; i.e. could be prepare a presentation which demonstrates skills used in the home or community that can be transferred to the workplace or community organisation of your preference as an employment option.

  4. Daniel Singh says:

    A change of focus is exactly what is required. These days everybody is worried about compliance to policies & procedures and the core values of safety are lost. Employee responsibilies beyond their job description is not their problem. Investigations identify flaws in the system and more procedures are put in place. I think we need to go back to the basics and do what we have been doing for ages in family setups, minders and keepers for one another.

  5. Michel says:

    True, I share the opinions written in the comments. Yes, it needs a change of focus and yes, what affects you at work will also affect you at home.

    On the other hand clearity is needed as well. People need to know how to respond to what ever incident, right after anything occurs.

    So, step 1 is the change of focus so people actually recognize issues, step 2 is make sure these people know how to respond.

    Keep up the good work. Thanks.

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