WhyWork® Podcast | Professional adult content | Sponsored by ViVA health at work

S04-E07: ‘Every Sunday I Eat A Pie’, Mate: The power intent of a hierarchy of controls

Season 04 Episode 07: This episode stemmed from conversations with Dylan Matthews of the BHP FutureFit Academy on the seemingly innocent and instructive applications of the Hierarchy of Controls (HOC) in safety management: elimination, substitution, isolation, engineering, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (ESIEAP – ‘Every Sunday I Eat A Pie’). Trajce is fired up by this topic as he recalls the 17th Century philosophy of Thomas Hobbes on jurisprudence, governance, liberalism, and utilitarianism. “A hierarchy of control is not intended to be as rigid as it implies with an unyielding iron cage of the law constraining work strategy. ‘Hierarchy’ is more politically forceful than ‘design,’ and that can create alarm in the workplace. To punctuate this idea, Trajce transforms into the Wizard of Oz with his threats and warnings. Alan interjects, “Trajce, am I mistaken?” he asks, “Wasn’t the Wizard determined to be a fraud?”

Sara pontificates on what she views as three pillars of work design: workplace protections, people and culture, and design, and she is anguished by the lack of attention by organisations and industries on the design pillar. She argues that human factors mediates these pillars in work strategy and must be deeply embedded in operations, with human factors professionals empowered by executive-level, decision-making authority. She elaborates on the ‘enduring impact’ (EI) of good work design introduced in Season 04 Episode 05: To live is to be anxious, especially in the toxic workplace. (Note: The EMESRT Vehicle Interaction working groups have done remarkable work on determining their classification of the ‘9 Layers of Control Effectiveness’, an inspiration for Sara’s thought on the enduring impact of design interventions).