Speaker: Distinguished Professor Helen Lingard, Director, Construction Work Health and Safety Research, RMIT University
Changing OHS culture in construction
One can only marvel at the depth and breadth of research Professor Helen Lingard has undertaken and drawn upon in her work in OHS in the construction industry. We had a taste of it during her presentation on 10th October and luckily her power point is available to financial members to look at it more closely.
Behind the figures, however, is a wealth of knowledge that informs improvements in safety culture. One of the main topics Helen covered was hours of work, where a large data set has identified a tipping point between hours worked and mental health issues. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that point is different for men and women. One finding that fascinated me was the fact that practical support from supervisors matters more than emotional support when it comes to dealing with prolonged hours of work.
Long hours of work is just one of the three main drivers in a poor culture, the other two being lack of diversity and wellbeing issues. Helen talked about a culture project that began in 2018, from which a Culture Standard has been developed that is now part of a pilot program in NSW & Victoria. Helen recommends visiting the website to learn more about it: https://www.constructionindustryculturetaskforce.com.au/
A really interesting innovation Helen spoke about was an online role playing game that has been developed to improve skills, especially among young construction workers. It was developed from the time not so long ago when face-to-face training was not an option, and draws upon real-life scenarios. There has been some positive feedback about it so far, and one can imagine how such an initiative would appeal to a younger cohort.
Once again we had the speaker and several attendees in the room, which is such a boon for stimulating discussion. In this case we had two attendees from WorkSafe's Construction Division, including an Inspector and it was great to gain his insights as well. He said that the different cultures at different workplaces are palpable.
Financial members can listen to the extensive discussion as well as Professor Lingard's excellent presentation by clicking on the link below (login first).
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