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Safe Work Month Short Talks 2021

Showcasing work health, safety and return to work issues relevant to you.

As part of our Safe Work Month 2021 program, we ran a series of livestreamed sessions that focussed on safety leadership, psychological safety, design for workplace diversity, and the future of work beyond COVID-19. Each delivered practical advice to immediately start improving health and safety and return to work outcomes in your workplace.


In an age of highly competitive and often volatile markets, the role of safety leader is constantly evolving. The push to achieve more with less, while maintaining a social and ethical licence to operate, places an increased expectation on leaders to get the most from their people in a safe and sustainable way. Throw in the added complexity of generational differences, an aging workforce, the need for total worker health, changing work environments and an organisation’s cultural maturity, and it becomes clear that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to leading for safety.

Safety leadership isn’t just about you as a leader, but also the person you are leading, their skills and willingness to engage, and the situation they find themselves in. So, how do leaders not only embrace, but also set themselves up for success in a landscape that is constantly changing?

In this engaging session, Dom spoke about:

  • the multiple roles expected of today’s safety leader
  • how to adapt leadership strategies to different levels of safety culture maturity
  • how to identify different safety leadership strategies for different individual employee variables in the workplace, including managing expectations both up and down the line.

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Dom O'BrienDom has more than five years’ experience in project management, facilitation, and solution development. He has managed and executed large-scale, culture change projects with clients across a range of industries including mining, healthcare, manufacturing, defence, and infrastructure.

Dom is passionate about improving his clients’ business and safety performance and enjoys working with executive leaders to drive positive and sustainable change for their people.

What are we doing in our working lives as leaders, colleagues, and designers to encourage diversity? Despite a comprehensive legislative framework to support diversity in the workplace, we simply may not have the knowledge, skills, or awareness about how to identify and include typically misrepresented communities in our design of work and jobs.

A human factors’ approach to design for diversity provides a practical means to advance this activity across an organisation. With such approaches, an organisation can ensure that teams are creative owing to the diverse partnerships involved in an effective design process, pathways exist to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, and innovation can be the hallmark of business activity.

Failure to consider diversity can result in exposure to adverse events that are catastrophic or lead to fatalities, disablement, or injury; marginalisation; barriers to recruitment and retention; less competitive and efficient operations; poor workplace climate and culture, psychosocial health hazards; poor engagement and productivity; legal and financial constraints; and, outwardly, diminished uptake of product or services.

David provided a compelling argument about why design for diversity is important and how to go about the practices, even during sudden workplace change, such as pandemic management. Watch to learn about how to integrate business unit activity, display good leadership, and advance company strategy through a shared investment in design objectives, measures, and outcomes.

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David HallDavid is passionate about health, wellbeing and building strong teams in workplaces. For nearly two decades he has been working with individuals and organisations in this capacity and he loves what he does.

After six years as the Victorian chair, David in 2016 became the National chair of the APA Occupational Health Physiotherapist Association. This role involved working in collaboration with a strong National committee in setting standards of practice in Occupational Health consulting for Health Professionals who work in this field. This includes a strong training and mentoring role with the Australian Physiotherapy Association members.

With a unique background in Physiotherapy and Group Facilitation, David has strong skills at working in partnership with organisations to see new possibilities in building healthier, happier and stronger teams at work.

Professor Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design, unpacks their latest research results on how COVID-19 has affected how we work.

This session provided evidence-based practical steps to address some of the issues associated with COVID such as isolation, work stress, the need for good organisational support, and communication. With the lens firmly pointed on the importance of flexible work and good work design, Sharon talked us through how to achieve your own SMART work design. She discussed the role of work design in fostering healthy, safe, and productive work, both when working at home and in the office. Sharon also explored the future of working from home - what new possibilities are being created and how our work will continue to be impacted.

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Professor Sharon ParkerAustralian Research Council Laureate Fellow Sharon Parker is a John Curtin Distinguished Professor in Organisational Behaviour in the Faculty of Business and Law, Curtin University.

Sharon is the Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design and is the Chief Investigator of the Mature Workers in Organisations stream of the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing.

She has worked as a researcher and consultant in a wide range of public and private organisations and delivered numerous keynote talks/executive education for practitioner audiences. Sharon has published high-impact articles in the Harvard Business Review, the Conversation, and other practitioner outlets and has contributed to various government inquiries and policy reviews. She was the lead consultant on the national Good Work Design initiative, SafeWork Australia.

In this thought-provoking presentation, Naomi looked at how fostering a culture of health and safety is no longer seen as a nice to have, but a necessity and foundation for the overall performance of a business. And in this current climate, now more than ever, it’s critical for organisations to manage health and safety risk by designing psychologically safe work environments.

With over 20 years’ experience owning and operating a nation-wide employee assistance and fitness for work company, Naomi looked at what psychological safety is, the benefits your work environment can achieve and the key correlation it has to individual wellbeing, safety performance, productivity and innovation. She also shared some recent applications of psychological safety in the workplace and the power it has in action along with the implications for future health and safety organisational interventions.

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Naomi ArmitageNaomi Armitage has worked intimately within risk-based industries to develop and implement strategic programs to improve employee health, wellbeing and safety. Her experience has seen her work across all levels of organisations from developing strategic initiatives with executive leaders, to facilitating working groups, auditing internal processes and delivering frontline behaviour skills training. Naomi’s depth of experience in human behaviour and mindset and the ability to operationalise complex constructs in a practical and simple form has seen her being recognised as an industry expert in the sector.

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