WhyWork Podcast

by Alan Girle, Trajce Cvetkovski, & Sara Pazell

The WhyWork Podcast is an organisational strategy session and legal dissection of workplace events that are laced with humour. Your bloggers, Alan, Trajce, and Sara, explore the contemporary and uncomfortable realities of work and the boundaries that are tested. Alan and Trajce dismantle case law and Sara pushes all to consider how to redesign the world of work so that business objectives are realised and that people thrive. ... 

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Podcast episodes

  • Season 4

  • S04 E08: The archiac adage of deserving a good spanking


    S04 E08: The archiac adage of deserving a good spanking


    Season 04 Episode 08: This episode covers two main topics. The first, thanks to our subscriber Andrew Nicholls, a design and technology teacher and researcher, who informed us of his advocacy for the provision of personal protective equipment to school technology and design staff. Alan reminds us of the case against a university because of levies charged to nursing students for their fit testing of respiratory protective equipment before they undertook their hospital placements. Trajce sites Section 273 of the Australian Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Person not to levy workers) arguing that a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking ‘must not impose a levy or charge on a worker for anything done or provided." He also sites Section 19, arguing that a workplace must care for ‘others.’ Second, the argument for care makes Alan come unstuck (as much as Alan ever comes undone), and Trajce and Sara are aghast as Alan explains the case he found in the Royal Australian Navy court martial records. The case involved a 57-year-old male supervising Lieutenant Commander and a 25-year-old female Junior Officer. While mentoring the junior, the 'improvement coaching' involved an age-old punishment practice of spanking the junior. “Shut-up, stop-stop-stop!” Trajce and Sara protest. “This is a slippery slope,” Trajce reflects and concludes, “If this story gripped me, it would grip a nation.” This episode is a fascinating segue to Season 04 Episode 07: ‘Every Sunday I Eat A Pie’, Mate: The power intent of a hierarchy of controls.

  • S04 E07: 'Every Sunday I Eat A Pie, (mate)': The power intent of a hierarchy of controls.


    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).

  • S04 E06: Methane moments


    S04 E06: Methane moments


    WARNING: A fatality and suicide are discussed in this episode. Season 04 Episode 06: “We’re all human,” Alan explains, “even during our methane messaging,” as he details the news story of U.S. Biden administration’s climate envoy, John Kerry, delivering a passionate speech on climate change in the most awkward exchange that was captured on film. The idea of ‘messaging’ led to the trio’s, Alan, Trajce, and Sara’s, expansion on the WhyWork Podcast’s vocabulary After Alan introduces topics on mining, Sara recalls her visit to the Mackay Resources Center of Excellence (RCOE) with Karen Sanders of Real Serious Games (RSG) to explore the centre's physical model of an underground mine. Alan suggests another case of interest: the WorkSafe VIC charge against the Victorian Building Authority. In this case, an inspector was issued a redundancy, an alleged cause of the inspector’s anguish before their suicide. Alan asks about a more graceful transition plan for loyal and long-term employees and Sara describes ‘lifecycle ergonomics’ coupled with internal customer journey mapping as a corollary to customer journey mapping: an organisational approach to the ‘multi-player’ user experiences. She uses a yoga analogy to consider the worker transition because “the exit part is the part that we usually get wrong,” she explains. Trajce agrees and contends that people just want to feel valued, “Love is the message, and the message is love,” he says, from ‘The Message is Love’ song by Arthur Baker.

  • S04 E05: To live is to be anxious, especially in the toxic workplace


    S04 E05: To live is to be anxious, especially in the toxic workplace


    WARNING: Suicide is mentioned in this episode. Season 04 Episode 05: Trajce introduces the idea of psychosocial factors causing work-related mental health disorders and psychological injury in a case in Victoria that led to the reguator's prosecution of a government agency. Alan explains that the injured person in this case committed suicide and even though this loss of life was not directly related to the workplace dynamics, the prosecution fine was significant. "This case," Alan recalls, "demonstrates that the public sector is not immune to prosecution." Trajce speaks on Brodie’s law, Victorian anti-bullying June 2011 legislation that made serious workplace bullying a criminal offence, punishable by up to 10 years in jail. The courts instituted this law after the tragic suicide of a young woman, Brodie Panlock, who was subjected to relentless bullying at work. Sara introduces the idea of the ‘Enduring Impact’ of good design, the new ‘EI’, instead of ‘Emotional Intelligence’, she discusses the ‘Enduring Impact’ of design strategy. She urges workplaces to synthesise codes of practices and ISO standards on hazard types in an integrated whole-of-person and work system design practice. This approach compels businesses to consider who is most vulnerable in the workplace and what circumstances cause vulnerability among workers, especially when “To live is to be anxious” she theorises. This episode aligns well with Season 01 Episode 05: Kozarov and the need for purpose. Tip: Here are resources on recovery-oriented language.

  • S04 E04: Ker-Choo! Dusty and crusty - for the love of power tools

    S04 E04: Ker-Choo! Dusty and crusty - for the love of power tools

    Season 04 Episode 04: "It's time to put the lid on dust," Trajce advances. Engineered stone, silica exposure - this has been in the media of late. The trio, Alan, Trajce, and Sara, discuss who is vulnerable to these exposures and why. Trajce argues that the regulators must not demonise one hazard exposure. Rather, pragmatism is needed to determine the safety of work. Alan argues the case that even when a business adheres to the workplace adivsory exposure standards for respirable dust, it does not matter when evaluated by a regulator. Trajce reminds us that dust is everywhere across many industries. Sara begs the question, "Are you an intentional designer or an accidental designer?" She argues that there is a cost to making decisions that impact on workers and systems when the trade-offs are not considered. Sara stipulates that just because a person makes work-related decisions, it does not make them strategic or intentional. Many times, work design is accidental. Sara pays tribute to a friend and mentor, Ms Peg Pinard of San Luis Obispo County, California. In her ode to Peg, she reflects on the concerns about engineered stones and the smoking ordinances instituted and pioneered by this Californian City and the County.