Work health and safety experts pursue lots of typical objectives and abide by similar rules. Whether you are a business owner, a PCBU, a Location Safety Officer, or part of my Occupational Safety Solutions group, we have particular subjects we frequently deal with, as well as things we rarely go over. It’s those underlying things that I wish to concentrate on today.

The sad thing is, my father departed three weeks back, and beyond the sorrow and sadness, his death has me thinking outside the boxes we normally live in. Death, and particularly his death, has got me thinking about much deeper issues.

We live in complex and very misleading times. In the midst of this, the burdens being placed on employers are increasing, not only requiring more of our resources but likewise significantly demanding compliance to frameworks of believing we and our workers may not always agree with. We’re being forced off the well-worn courses, tracks and trails we’re used to, and onto side-roads and goat routes and into unpredictable surface.

Do you as a busy individual, as I do, wrestle with managing work, staff, family and friends? Do you likewise discover it hard at times to believe beyond the apparent and the essentials?

The WHS role can be described clearly, dramatically or with street-level bluntness:

Mentioned clearly … work health and safety is about anticipating what can fail, Strategising to avoid it occurring, and helping keep individuals safe.

A lot of individuals run from snakes, however safety experts act in a different way. WHS requires us to prepare for the snake, keep it in view, understand how to respond, train others to do also, keep unnecessary snakes out, manage the snakes that are already inside, and strategy for the ones that are birthed every day.

Stated bluntly … work health and safety activities are about assisting company owner cover their arse, adhere to the law and keep their individuals safe.

These are the WHS parts that are apparent. Let’s speak about three subjects that do not get provided much time.

At a top level, we see standards, checks, balances and procedures. Underneath these surface behaviours, guiding concepts are at work, with duty of care and due diligence blazing a trail. If we look even deeper, we see a prolonged variety of factors, motivations, philosophies and concepts, of which, there are three I want to discuss:

1. Ethical awareness,
2. Wrestling with morality, and
3. Handling and allowing feeling,

Consider them as path guides to help you browse when government, scenarios, or your people require you off the well-worn courses that you are used to.


You probably already have an operating ethical compass if you’ve read this far. Nevertheless, you may not have thought much about its application in the safety context. ‘Application’ is what ethics is about. Ethics is the application of morality in a provided scenario. Simply put, morality is a system that tells us what is incorrect and right, and ethics is the application of those rights and wrongs in an offered situation. It can be fairly argued that ethics alter with time, but morality is constant.

Where does this fit in the WHS context? Ethics is like a path guide that informs you to get the speed, slow down, or step carefully. The virtue or morality is in reaching the destination; ethics is exercised in getting there properly.

While a lot of workers believe it is ideal to comment on hazardous circumstances (morality), however not all do (ethics). A lot of likewise know it is right for them to fix a manager who is directing them to do something hazardous (morality), however numerous would not follow through on this conviction (ethics). There is typically a space between morality and ethics and I have a strong suspicion that gap was narrower in my father’s day.

The take-away: do not assume that morality suffices, or that the ethical behaviour seen in one work domain will also be evidenced in another. Effective work health and safety isn’t practically what is right; it’s likewise about developing an office where ethical behaviour is the norm. A few of the tips that follow will help.


We have actually currently mentioned that morality is the art of understanding the difference between wrong and best, even when the best thing is less useful. Unfortunately, various employees have differing ideas of right and wrong. Nowadays, we also come across lots of who think the just ideal that matters is ‘their right. It’s the ethical equivalent of having ‘an individual reality’ – and in a work environment safety situation, that is a disaster waiting to occur.

My old man taught me that right is wrong and best is wrong. Even when it injures, best stays right, and wrong stays wrong. Our workers might disagree on how right and wrong is chosen, but workers need to come together when it pertains to work health and safety. It’s fine for a worker to understand that their viewpoints and their morality have worth, however when it pertains to safety decisions, in all but the most extraordinary of cases, the moral thing to do is what the legislation states to do.

What if a supervisor, a fellow employee or federal government authority acts, demands or manoeuvres in an unethical method? Plainly, there are times when what is legal is likewise immoral; for instance, both in the past and during World War Two the Nazi SS assembled Jewish, Homosexual and polish individuals for damage. They did this within the law. It could be argued they were obliged by it. But was it moral?

These days, I am mindful that personal morality varies profoundly from person to person – perhaps more than ever before. That brings a difficulty to my workplace since I require to battle with the ramifications of a morally unclear truth.

Morality provides none of us a free pass, and I reckon my Papa’s generation comprehended that better than we do.

When it comes to emotions, there are 2 groups (or extremes) that tend to control. These emotions trigger hesitancy and uneasiness, leading employees to not speak when they should. These emotions get in the way of effective communication, shut down open discussion and increase the probability of hazards and mistakes occurring.

What are we to do? The workplace needs all types of characters, so all these emotions will make an appearance. We need to discover a way to handle emotional extremes.

My father’s generation was big on personal responsibility and just “getting shit done”. My generation was more interested in self-esteem and understanding ourselves within a team-oriented context. Today’s young individuals seem to think the world revolves around their desires, their requirements, and their truth.

Perhaps there’s a winning balance to be discovered in between, and I reckon honesty is a good location to start. A group leader can reveal the method by prefacing his comments to encourage emotional awareness and self-management. For example:

” I feel a little worried raising this, however I’m going to …”
” Wait! Offer me a minute. I’m too f ‘n upset and I’m gon na say something we’ll both regret.”
” I do not mind if you do ‘you’ at house. When we’re here, we do ‘us’!

Whatever the specifics of your work health and safety function, understanding these 3 underpinning problems will absolutely assist your results. It appears to me that there is little to lose and much to gain. Ethical awareness, the determination to wrestle with morality, and emotional responsiveness are all areas of investment, not cost.

As we close, you may have kept in mind that I have not even mentioned an item – and I’m not going to. Today, my item silence is my way of walking the talk. What I have actually shown you is so fundamental it is worthy of an undistracted focus.


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