Safety on work sites ‘dumbed down’

Originally posted on February 8, 2012 @ 7:45 PM

Interesting article in today’s Canberra Times, quoting our guest author Dr Robert Long (see his work here)

Safety on work sites ‘dumbed down’


08 Feb, 2012 01:00 AM

A safety and risk assessment consultant engaged after the Beaconsfield Mine disaster says safety on Canberra construction sites is being dumbed down and over-regulated.

Rob Long, who previously worked for the ACT government and international safety organisations, believes regulatory and policing bodies such as WorkSafe ACT and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union aren’t focussed on cultural change to tackle unsafe work sites.

”In all the public comments about safety incidents over the past year in Canberra, including the [Barton Highway] bridge collapse, there is next to no discussion of safety culture,” Dr Long said.

‘Indeed, I can’t understand how the Cotter [Dam] project can have 21 provisional improvement notices and this not be the key to the problems out there.

”Twenty-one improvement notices are not evidence of systems problems but attitudinal problems, that is, safety cultural problems.”

Dr Long contends you can’t learn without risk in his new book, Risk Makes Sense.

Mine manager Matthew McGill, who worked with Dr Long on the Beaconsfield mine disaster’s aftermath, writes in the foreword big disasters hold a common wild card – people.

He says Dr Long helped him understand that human behaviour, beliefs, attitudes and perceptions were variable, volatile, inconsistent and personal.


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