010 July / August 2
â€˘ Issue 122
Safe harbour Bridging the safety gaps
I Awards I Best practitioner I Salary survey
Leading New Zealand to better health and safety performance
The New Zealand Workplace Health & Safety Awards 2010
Special thanks... Safeguard would like to thank everyone who entered the New Zealand Workplace Health & Safety Awards 2010. Our sincere thanks also go to the judging panel who had the difficult task of choosing finalists and winners from the impressive number of high quality entries. Award entries for the New Zealand Workplace Health & Safety Awards 2011 will be open from October 2010 onwards.
Thank you to all our sponsors for their generous support:
July/August 2010 • Issue 122
features regulars 4 Editorial 6 From the Courts 8 Legal Viewpoint
10 Safe harbour Winning the supreme safety award warranted a visit to meet the Total Bridge Services team at the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Angela Gregory got to not just enjoy the view on a fine winter’s morning, but view the safety innovations which put TBS ahead of the rest.
16 Safe spitting distance
39 Speaking of Safety
A fearsome newspaper photo featuring new protective gear caught the attention of Angela Gregory, and the Corrections Department explained. Meanwhile Jackie Brown-Haysom hunted down some real life examples about how PPE can save lives … and toes.
21 To have a defib, or not
51 The DoL Report
Rapid access to defribillators can make the difference between life and death, but should workplaces necessarily purchase them? Theresa Khatchian gives an emphatic yes, for local councils at least.
20 Incident Investigation
52 NZISM Perspective 54 Hi-Vis
22 Doing something Wright
55 Health Matters
Jodi Wright has copped a few derogatory comments when working in male dominated environments. Now she’s having the last laugh after picking up a national award for her H&S prowess, as Peter Bateman reports.
56 Community 58 Monkey Business
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25 Plan for resilience The more probable emergencies sometimes get overlooked in management response plans, the Fire Service tells Jackie Brown-Haysom.
28 A big night out! It was the night of the year to celebrate safety achievements in New Zealand. Check out our spread of photos from the NZ Workplace Health & Safety Awards and details of award finalists and winners.
43 Dashing safety style There’s a lot more to safety than what goes on in the air, the RNZAF explains to Angela Gregory.
47 Pay on the rise It’s one of our best read regular features, and it’s back. Peter Bateman can be the bearer of some good news, as the Safeguard annual salary survey suggests an improvement in the renumeration of safety experts in New Zealand.
MANAGING EDITOR Peter Bateman 09 360 3709 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Angela Gregory 09 360 3723 email@example.com ADVERTISING Liz Kaiwai 04 470 9597 firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTING WRITER Jackie Brown-Haysom email@example.com
here were you on the night of June 15 this year? I’m guessing at home, or in a bar, watching the All Whites’ first World Cup match against Slovakia, in what transpired to be one of New Zealand’s great sporting moments. But maybe you were earlier also at the NZ Workplace Health & Safety Awards, or digesting the first day of the Safeguard conference. Either way we hope it proved a memorable night, not least for the award winners whose successes we will feature in the magazine over coming months. Indeed in this issue we have the supreme winner, Total Bridge Services, whose noteworthy safety innovations ran the range from hard-hat chin straps to an electric train. And it meant I got to clamber all over the harbour bridge, in the process discovered my fear of heights was not as bad as I thought. As a born and bred Aucklander I can proudly report having not just climbed to the top of our iconic bridge, but also having crawled around inside it (see story, page 10). We also feature the OHS practitioner of the year; Jodi Wright, a no-nonsense safety champion who’s made a real difference in her company. The OHS systems she has implemented have influenced other parts of the business, to her boss’s delight (see story, page 22). The awards night, like the conference, was a sell-out success at SkyCity, with MC John Campbell proving a popular and ever-genial host. He was genuinely impressed by the mix of individuals, and small to large businesses, from all over the country vying for well-deserved recognition. In fact so taken was he with the awards, that Campbell Live followed up one winner in an item on its show – nice to see some positive safety news make it into mainstream, prime-time media. And of memorable nights, Oscar Wilde once said that memory is the diary that we all carry with us. So hopefully you will all make a note in your mental diaries to come back next year, and make the annual conference and awards a must-do calendar event.
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Editorial contributions: Safeguard invites submissions from those wishing to contribute articles, photos or other material. All material in Safeguard is subject to copyright. The contents may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, the publishers take no responsibility for any consequences of reliance on the information it contains. The views expressed in articles by contributing writers do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Safeguard.
Angela Gregory Editor issn 0113 9533
4 SAFEGUARd Ju ly/Au g ust
Measurable goals The Department of Labour wants to see a statistically significant reduction in New Zealand’s workplace injury and fatality rates within three years, according to its action agenda. The draft document, released to Safeguard, says the Action Agenda for Health and Safety in New Zealand 2010-2013 marks a shift in the national strategy to reduce the work toll. It aims to sharpen the focus on H&S and fill the gap between the national Workplace Health and Safety Strategy for New Zealand to 2015 and workers on the frontline. It identifies four action areas – growing safety leadership, developing capability, building k nowledge and supporting a robust H&S system. The action agenda then targets construction, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and fishing as priority sectors
where a marked and measurable difference can be made to reduce harm. Each of the five sectors will have an individual three year action plan as a “rallying point” to build shared leadership a nd ow nersh ip of t he problem s a nd solutions, agree on priorities, and coordinate and integrate activity. The plans will be developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders. The act ion agenda will develop partnerships in the sectors. It will also address the needs and influences of small businesses, workers, business leaders, sector leadership groups and iwi. The action agenda also wants to provide more focus and delivery for occupational health issues. “The action agenda will address this often hidden but significant
ATV training suggested Better training in the safe use and maintenance of ATVs in New Zealand could help prevent serious harm accidents, says a research paper. The paper Risk and preventive factors for fatalities in all-terrain vehicle accidents in New Zealand was published in the internat ional Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal. Prepared by researchers from Auc k la nd Un iversit y ’s Fa c u lt y of Me di c al a n d Healt h S c i e n c e s a nd Department of Statistics, the study said the human behaviour behind ATV accidents could possibly be modified through proper training.
ATVs are identified as a major safety concern associated with an average of seven deaths per year, the related fatalities accounting for between 8 and 19 percent of all work-related fatalities. Costs to ACC related to ATV injuries are estimated at over $3.5 million per year. Usi ng DoL data t he resea rc hers analysed 355 New Zealand cases of serious harm accidents associated with ATVs, including 45 fatalities. The study said that being formally trained, wearing a helmet and keeping tyres and brakes in good condition decreased the likelihood of a fatal outcome.
DEATHS AT WORK INVESTIGATED RECENTLY BY DOL
WorkPLACE death toll FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 2010: 14 January Male, 24 Bus passenger hit by truck wheel
Auckland motorway (Otahuhu) Transport
15 May Male, 33 Hampton Downs (Waikato) Prison officer punched in head 19 May Lost control of bike
21 June Male, 61 Mt Maunganui Transport and Run over by forklift Storage
problem – 17,000 new cases of work-related disease are reported every year.” There will be improved surveillance of workrelated diseases, improved awareness and understanding of occupational health issues, and sector-specific actions where harm is occurring. The priorities for 2010-13 are to build effective leadership and better coordinate a focus on harm reduction. Industry leadership groups will be established within each of the priority sectors by the end of this year, and increasing numbers of initiatives will demonstrate a joint approach. The DoL has devised a pledge as a symbolic ack nowledgement of the collaborative approach needed by govern ment and business, industry organisations, unions and H&S professionals. Stakeholders willing to do their part to achieve zero harm in the workplace can become “Partners in Action” with the DoL, and are invited to pledge the commitment. These stories appeared in Safeguard Update. For more news stories please visit www.safeguard.co.nz/news
A FOREIGN AFFAIR CALAMITY LORRAINE A woman crowned Scotland’s most accident-prone person used to be a healthy and safety officer, reports the Scottish News. Lorraine Crozier has had more than 20 serious accidents as well as countless bumps, bruises, trips and falls. Her injuries include a broken coccyx, ruptured knee ligaments, fractured elbow, chipped collar bone, dislocated shoulder and four broken toes – despite the fact she once worked as a health and safety investigator. Mrs Crozier, aged 35, told the paper she was so accident prone she even injured herself answering the phone call to say she’d won. She says she has always been accident-prone. “I was an adventurous child and liked to climb in trees and ride horses - but I’m not good at staying on things.”
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From the Courts
Briefs Cemac Construction Ltd was fined $5000 and ordered to pay reparations of $20,000 on a s18 charge under the HSE Act, after the employee of a contractor at a construction site died after falling 3.5m from an unsupported section of mezzanine floor which snapped. Judge E.O.K. Blaikie said the fine was reduced given the financial circumstances of the defendant, and reparation had to take priority. The DoL said the company should have had identified the hazard, ensured visitors to the worksite knew who to report to, and put in perimeter protection (Hamilton DC, February 19). Power Jointing Ltd was fined $30,000 and ordered pay reparations of $10,000 under s6 of the HSE act after an employee suffered flash burns to 10 percent of his body area. The man was uncovering electrically charged cables with a digger which was only meant to be clearing surface vegetation, but hit a live cable. Judge P.A. Moran said it was a potentially dangerous undertaking. The company supervisor had been reminded that extreme care should be taken and all cables treated as live. There should have only been hand digging when exposing the electrical cables. The victim should not have been allowed near the trench with an excavator (Christchurch DC, February 25). Porter Cranes Ltd was fined $20,000 for a s16 charge under the HSE Act following an incident where a load was uncontrollably dropped onto a street. The company was contracted to operate a crane for lifting work on a demolition site. It was advised by Waikato Concrete Crushing Ltd (fined a total of $20,000 for the same incident, under sections 6 and 18) that the estimated weight of a panel to be removed was 2-3 tonnes, but did not take its own measurements to determine the correct weight of 4.7 tonnes. The load could not at first be freed from columns and when it finally became unstuck the crane rotated and tipped. Judge Wolff found both defendants equally culpable (Hamilton DC, February 26). James Hardie NZ Ltd was fined $54,400 and ordered pay reparation of $76,000 under s6 of the HSE Act over an incident where a worker was killed when pulled through the in-running nip between an idle roller and conveyor belt. He had been tracking and tensioning a newly replaced conveyor belt. The company had failed to provide guarding to prevent access to the underside of the conveyor while it was operating and safely position the tensioning buckle. Judge Field found that the hazard was obvious (Auckland DC, March 4) Karamea Lime Company Ltd was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $20,000 under s6 of the HSE Act after an employee became entangled in the rotating shaft of a limestone crushing plant. He suffered crushed vertebrae, cracked ribs and needed skin grafts to his arms and legs (Westport DC, 25 March).
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‘Relay’ communication criticised A judge has criticised the use of an inexperienced middle-man to relay critical information about the re-energising of a power line, which led to a worker receiving an electric shock. The Lines Company was fined $15,000 after being charged under s18 of the HSE Act (Rotorua DC, March 25) over the incident where as a principal, one of its contractor’s employees received secondary burns to his limbs. The contractor Energex had earlier been fined $18,000 under s6 and ordered to pay $18,000 in reparations (Tokoroa DC, April 3, 2008) to the worker injured from a flashover when the power supply he was working on was restored without his knowledge. Judge R.L.B. Spear said in a reserved judgement that it was “abundantly clear” that the principal responsibility for the accident lay at the feet of Energex. Its supervisor was clearly deficient with procedures. His performance was inadequate, and he had not told his work party that he intended to undertake live line procedures that afternoon. The victim was not qualified to be involved in any work governed by a live line permit, and he and a fellow worker believed the cable they were working on had been de-energised and would remain so. However Judge Spear also found that The Lines Company had failed to take one practicable step – that of direct communication. There appeared to have been a communication breakdown over the important step of enlivening the circuit, which was not made directly, but relayed through an intermediary who had limited qualifications and understanding. He found The Line Company did not take the practicable step of ensuring that the line of communication between its controller/permit issuer and Energex’s work party supervisor/permit recipient was direct. Judge Spear said an expert for the Lines Company had not seemed concerned an electrician was put in the role of a relay. The DoL was critical of such practice, which the judge said appeared to be a contributing cause of the accident. For an electrician to be permitted to relay information and requests about as important a matter as the enlivening of the circuit meant there was an increased risk of misunderstanding or misinterpretation that was quite avoidable. Judge Spear said The Lines Company controller should have insisted upon receiving confirmation directly from the Energex supervisor to the effect that the line was to be energised, particularly given his isolation from the work site, and to ensure it was safe to do so. “Communication on such an important step as the enlivening of the circuit should have been between directly the two senior individuals involved … the two managers who had agreed and defined the nature of the work.” Judge Spear said indirect communication increased the risk of misunderstanding or confusion. He found it irrelevant that the supervisor was not in a good position to communicate with the controller because he was on a raised platform, undertaking line connection work. “That strikes more as an argument for expediency.” The judge was also concerned at the imprecise titles of the permit documents (access and live line) which governed work on such a network.
Recent NZ health and safety prosecutions For a searchable archive of cases see Safeguard CourtBase www.safeguardcourtbase.co.nz
Facial trauma linked to death A man’s serious facial injuries after being flicked in the face with an excavator chain were thought likely to have contributed to his death six days later. Rogers Earthmoving Ltd was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $60,000 after being charged under s6 of the HSE Act (Auckland DC, June 22). The victim had in 2007 been working on the Stonefields residential development in Mt Wellington, and was attempting to re-fit a track on a disabled hydraulic excavator. After repeated efforts to fix the excavator a chain under tension came loose and swung out in a radial arc striking the man, who was standing about two metres away, in the face. The man was rendered unconscious and taken to hospital. The 41-year-old died there six days later from clots to the lungs and subsequent strokes, which in a pathologist’s view were complications arising from the original trauma. The DoL said Rogers Earthmoving had failed to have in place a written procedure for the refitting of the tracks on its machinery, or a service manual. It had not formalised its training procedures to ensure employees were authorised to only carry out tasks they were trained in. The victim, who was not a qualified mechanic, had little experience in re-fitting tracks. The company also failed to ensure he was adequately supervised. Judge J.P. Gittos found there was a sufficiently clear causal line between the defendant’s failure, and the death of the man.
High reparations The family of a man who died after he was engulfed by sand in an aggregate bin was awarded $125,000 in reparations. Fletcher Concrete and Infrastructure Ltd was also fined $45,000 under s6 of the HSE Act as a result of the accident in September last year (Nelson DC, August 20). The man was cleaning the inside of the aggregate bin using the sand inside it as a working platform. He was engulfed when sand was drawn from the bin and died at the scene. Judge A. Zohrab said the company had offered a reparation payment of $125,000 which fell in the higher range of awards that had been made in such cases. “Often employers are simply unable to make payment as they do not have insurance and are in poor financial situations … here I can say that since this incident … the defendant company has taken a very responsible approach and done the best it can.” Judge Zohrab said $125,000 did not seem much for the loss of a life but he believed it was an appropriate amount in the circumstances. The company had submitted that five weeks before the incident there had been an independent audit of the plant, and the practice that led to the accident was not identified. The DoL said it was obvious the bins needed to be cleaned and that they were confined spaces. There was a lack of hazard identification, and a departure from industry standards.
Briefs Mulford Holdings Ltd was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $60,000 under s6 of the HSE Act when an employee died after falling about 5.8m off a scaffold. The man had been kneeling on a 2.1m high scaffold tower which had been erected on top of a fire escape landing rail 3.7m from the ground, while painting a window sash. Another painter had gone inside and opened windows for painting, and the tower overturned. Judge M.N.E. O’Dwyer said the company failed to comply with instructions for erecting the scaffold tower and had failed to secure it to the building (Dunedin DC, March 19). Arborline Products Ltd was fined $45,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $10,000 under sections 6 and 25 of the HSE Act after an employee was injured while maintaining an edge bander machine. Part of his finger was amputated by a guillotine cutter which had no guarding or interlocking. The DoL said deficiencies on the secondhand machine included a missing protective shield, a disabled interlock control and a defective guard. The company was aware of the accident on the day it occurred but the DoL was not notified until 20 days later. The company director was president of the NZ Joiners Manufacturers Federation, and had played an active role in improving H&S in the joinery industry. The judge found the company had shown genuine remorse and the employee had been warned to keep his fingers clear of the cutter (Hamilton DC, March 23). Truck Farms Ltd was fined $45,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $25,000 under sections 6 and 26 of the HSE Act after an employee was hurt while dismantling a heavy motor vehicle. He was working on a bus when it rolled off two wheel rims. Among his injuries were a broken pelvis and a split kidney which led to acute renal failure. He also had cognitive and memory problems, and spent nine weeks in residential rehabilitation unit. He had been working for the company for about 20 years after emigrating form Fiji, and had little understanding of spoken or written English. He had received limited or no training on safety. The DoL said the company had failed to identify the hazard of raised vehicles, develop safe procedures to support vehicles, ensure the processes were understood and implemented by employees (Manukau DC, April 8, 2010). Charles David Shoosmith as trustee of Trust Shooies was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $6000 under s6 of the HSE Act after an employee was injured while riding on a kiwifruit bin trailer. The bins he was sitting on rolled forward and his left foot became caught between the trailer and the ground, bending it backwards. His foot was factured and ankle dislocated (Tauranga DC, April 12).
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Full disclosure New Zealand companies are about to lose their right to silence in H&S investigations and the implications will be significant, says GRANT NICHOLSON. As every aficionado of American cop shows knows, the right to silence is a fundamental legal concept. This doesn’t just apply to criminals, as New Zealand businesses and employees enjoy the right not to disclose information to the Department of Labour or other regulators when it would incriminate them.
It is likely to see more enforcement actions taken against businesses, as the DoL will be armed with additional incriminating evidence. This is about to change. There is currently a Bill before Parliament to amend the HSE Act which, when passed, will preserve the right to silence for individuals but abolish it for companies. The effect of this is likely to be huge. Initially, at least, the key change will be that the DoL will be able to demand companies deliver up documents even when those documents contain incriminating admissions. For example, an internal incident report that identifies a systemic failure in the business and which identifies practicable steps the business should have taken, will now need to be disclosed. Everyone investigating incidents within businesses is going to need to take extra care to draft reports in neutral language whenever possible. This will undoubtedly create tension for health and safety practitioners, as they
will want to focus on properly identifying root causes and necessar y corrective actions. The DoL already has the power to compel a company to nominate an individual to answer questions on its behalf. During these interviews the DoL’s inspectors will commonly ask tricky questions, including questions about what practicable steps the company could have taken but did not take. Until now, inter viewees have been able to decline to answer this question because it would incriminate the business. In the future, this will not be possible and the interviewee is going to need to give a full and frank confession. This is likely to have two major consequences for businesses. Firstly, it is likely to see more enforcement actions taken against businesses, as the DoL will be armed with additional incriminating evidence. Secondly, and perhaps more controversially, it is also likely to lead to consideration of more serious charges. This will include offences under section 49 of the HSE Act (where there has been a knowing breach of duty) or under section 56 (where charges are pursued against directors and senior company officers). It is currently difficult for the DoL to get a real understanding of which senior company employees had personal knowledge of systemic or behavioural failing within the business. It seems reasonable to assume that the DoL will in the future ask direct questions about this, and companies are going to need to answer them. One possible way to avoid this will be to have the relevant senior manager attend as the authorised company representative, because then the manager can decline to answer questions on the basis that
they are not obliged to incriminate themselves personally. Some practitioners might see the loss of a right to silence as a positive development, to the extent it will provide a greater incentive for businesses to improve their commitment and investment in health and safety. That ce r tainly a ppe a r s to be the Australian experience. David Tr egoweth spoke frankly at the recent Safeguard c o nfe re n c e a b o u t th e n e e d
for New Zealand to do better and catch up to Australia in health and safety performance. This change to legal privilege may well, in a small way, be a step on that journey.
Grant Nicholson is a partner at Kensington Swan and heads the firm’s health and safety workgroup.
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J U LY / AU G UST 2010
Photos:by Angela Gregory Photos Angela Gregory.
(award logo) Safe harbour ANGELA GREGORY climbed over, under and even inside the Auckland Harbour Bridge to see for herself what it took for the clip-on strengthening project to take out New Zealand’s top safety award. It is a high profile, multi-million dollar construction project on one of Auckland’s most iconic man-made structures – yet the relatively banal “slip, trips and falls” hazard remains its biggest safety threat. And when you are talking about the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the falls of either workers or objects not only endanger the workforce, but the unsuspecting boaties and ferry riders below. To date none has been struck by falling objects from the bridge, and Total Bridge Services (TBS) health and safety manager Lee Busby is determined to keep it that way. He even invented a novel chin strap to stop hard hats being knocked off workers’ heads and toppling into the busy harbour below. “We’ve had hard hats knocked into the harbour,” he admits. The straps, resembling bicycle helmet straps, are made of velcro so they can be fastened to any hard hats. The straps have proven so successful the design has been picked up for export orders. The chin-strap is among a raft of innovative approaches to address the unique set of hazards posed by the bridge strengthening project, which saw TBS claim the Supreme Award and the award for best initiative to address a health hazard at the recent NZ Workplace Health & Safety Awards. TBS holds the maintenance contract on the bridge, and in 2008 began the NZ Transport Agency’s two-year project to strengthen the box girders which support the outer lanes, commonly described as clip-ons. Crews work day and night to fix hundreds of tons of steel to the inside and outside of the box girders, by welding and bolting. The various hazards include tripping, with physical obstacles at virtually every step due to the tightly woven and grid-like inner and outer structure of the bridge. The total length of each of the box girders is 1100m and they are divided into sections forcing the workers to regularly bend and duck to gain access. Other common hazards include working in confined spaces and at heights, labouring in heat and noise, and exposure to chemicals. Then there are the more unusual hazards, says Busby, like the bungy jumpers and bridge walkers at the southern end of the bridge. L-R Lee Busby, Robert Safety induction exercises are run for Strong and Keith Stolberger. all bridge visitors, then at differing levels for contractors and fulltime staff. An alarm system runs the length of the bridge and
Safe harbour ANGELA GREGORY climbed over, under and even inside the Auckland Harbour Bridge to see for herself what it took for the clip-on strengthening project to take out New Zealand’s top safety award.
t is a high profile, multi-million dollar construction project on one of Auckland’s most iconic man-made structures – yet the relatively banal “slip, trips and falls” hazard remains its biggest safety threat. And when you are talking about the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the falls of either workers or objects not only endanger the workforce, but the unsuspecting boaties and ferry riders below. To date none has been struck by falling objects from the bridge, and Total Bridge Services (TBS) health and safety manager Lee Busby is determined to keep it that way. He even invented a novel chin strap to stop hard hats being knocked off workers’ heads and toppling into the busy harbour below. “We’ve had hard hats knocked into the harbour,” he admits. The straps, resembling bicycle helmet straps, are made of velcro so they can be fastened to any hard hats. They have proven so successful the design has been picked up for export orders. The chin-strap is among a raft of innovative approaches to address the unique set of hazards posed by the bridge strengthening project, which saw TBS claim the Supreme Award and the award for best initiative to address a health hazard at the recent NZ Workplace Health & Safety Awards. TBS holds the maintenance contract on the bridge, and in 2008 began the NZ Transport Agency’s two-year project to strengthen the box girders which support the outer lanes, commonly described as clip-ons. Crews work day and night to fix hundreds of tons of steel to the inside and outside of the box girders, by welding and bolting. The various hazards include tripping, with physical obstacles at virtually every step due to the tightly woven and grid-like inner and outer structure of the bridge. The total length of each of the box girders is 1100m and they are divided into sections forcing the workers to regularly bend and duck to gain access. Other common hazards include working in confined spaces and at heights, labouring in heat and noise, and exposure to chemicals. Then there are the more unusual hazards, says Busby, like the bungy jumpers and bridge walkers at the southern end of the bridge. Safety induction exercises are run for all bridge visitors, then at differing levels for contractors and fulltime staff. An alarm system runs the length of the bridge and when it sounds all the workers immediately down tools, make their work area safe,
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SAFEGUARd 1 1
Velcro chin-straps. and move off the bridge. The bridge strengthening team comprises a range of trades people like painters and fitters, along with general labourers and technicians, and professionals including structural and mechanical engineers. At times there were up to 150 people working on the constrained site at any one time. TBS reported that early in the bridge project the LTIs were frequent, and a significant contributing factor was the number of subcontractors involved from different companies and work experiences. A lot of effort went into instilling a strong safety culture by creating a greater awareness and personal and team responsibilities. All personnel on the site were encouraged to get involved and make safety a way of life. Safety initiatives, rigorous systems, continuous education and a strong safety leadership went towards creating a pervasive safety consciousness throughout the project. The reporting of near miss events was
promoted along with discussing all incident reports at weekly toolbox meetings, acknowledging safety initiatives and getting those previously injured to speak. At toolbox meetings the best suggestions or hazard identifications were awarded with prizes. Heat exhaustion posed a curly problem as the temperatures inside the box girders could range from 10˚C in winter to 40˚C in summer. There were limited natural ventilation openings because of structural integrity requirements. Adding to the ambient temperature were the hot-work operations, electrical equipment and lighting. To address this work shifts were juggled during the hottest months and air/fume extraction and ventilation systems were installed. Fans were attached to external portholes to introduce fresh air to isolated boxes. The lead paint which had to be removed exposed an early problem. Baseline blood
Safety initiatives, rigorous systems, continuous education and a strong safety leadership went towards creating a pervasive safety consciousness throughout the project.
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level readings were taken and tradesmen and labourers working in the box girders showed significantly elevated blood levels. By October 2008 about 60 percent of the workforce had lead levels above the non-occupational exposure limits. One worker reached a level well above the DoL serious harm notification threshold. The decision was made to change the paint removal process from abrasive blasting to chemical paint stripping. While a slower process it was a safer option, taken along with training in the correct fitting and use of respirators and a lead education programme. In 2009 there was a downward trend in lead exposure and by early 2010 over 90 percent of the workers had lead levels below the non-occupational exposure threshold. Due to research showing smokers were more likely to absorb lead in the bloodstream, a smoking cessation programme was introduced, with about half of those who participated managing to give up. Zinc chromate was also identified as a hazard in the paint and the need for good hygiene was reinforced. There is a high level of traffic and construction noise in the box girders, which was recorded at times above levels likely to cause permanent hearing loss. This meant strict requirements to wear grade 5 earmuffs or earplugs. Working with heavy materials in the constrained spaces led to the design of an electric train, commissioned to transport lengths of steel through the girders. The train has already run for about 5000 working hours, covering 6000kms or nearly four times the
Clip-on lanes attached to concrete pillars. J u ly / A ug u st 2 0 1 0
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length of New Zealand. Over 900 tonnes of steel is being distributed through the girders, with the train helping to minimise back strains or other manual handling injuries. The work teams also underwent special confined space and fall restraint training. Air blasting, grinding and welding had resulted in eye injuries, and while none were serious their frequency was a concern. Safety glasses were made a mandatory PPE requirement everywhere on site, with management making it clear they had to be worn at all times. Five eye wash stations were also installed around the site. Keith Stolberger, TBS project manager, says the success of the project evolved from the recognition of the hazardous nature of the site and the ethos that a safe site is an efficient site. “This ethos has been reflected in the continual improvement in productivity as the safety culture has developed and improved.” Stolberger says all parties including the NZTA, TBS and Beca, worked together in a co-operative environment to ensure such a philosophy was realised. The DoL also assisted with regular visits and constructive inputs to developing and sustaining a strong safety culture on site. “The team wide commitment to safety has allowed us to continually reinforce the safety culture
Electric train transports steel. across the site.” Stolberger says the site team raised the bar with respect to safety performance by actively participating in safety initiatives.” Site personnel are very proud of the achievements made in this area, and a positive peer pressure pervades the project with active
feedback in incident reporting and putting forward suggestions for improvement.” Tommy Parker, NZTA’s regional state highways manager for Auckland and Northland, says he is thrilled with the results of the safety initiatives and their national recognition. “The Supreme Award was a credit to all those involved. The project represented a huge safety risk given the challenging conditions.” Parker says its strength has been in collaboration, the team’s openness to new approaches, and fostering ideas from all over. “The team thought outside the box, and were not just following a safety manual.” Parker says 200 people have worked on the project from very different backgrounds including some sourced internationally. Taking note of the fluid workplace, the LTSA wants to leave a safety legacy. “If there is a good level of safety induction here, then they take that away with them to the next job.” He says NZTA won’t rest on its laurels, and will keep reviewing and monitoring safety systems. “Complacency is the biggest threat.” Parker says from the top down, NZTA highly rates improving safety for both road users and its workforce, listing safety among its five strategic priorities. “We are trying to S foster a better safety culture.”
Improve workplace safety, reduce workplace injury
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Safe spitting distance
New equipment will soon be available in prisons to further protect the safety of Corrections officers, ANGELA GREGORY reports.
pit hoods would have to rank among the more unusual forms of PPE in a workplace, but they are to be made available to all Corrections Department prison guards in a major upgrade of their safety equipment. For the uninitiated, spit hoods are designed to reduce the spreading of blood-borne pathogens by placing a breathable bag or face mask over the prisoner’s face to prevent prisoners spitting at staff. Leanne Field, Corrections assistant general manager operations, says they are justified given a Ministry of Health survey showing that one in three prisoners has a communicable disease. Such diseases may be transmittable through blood and/or saliva, resulting in the need to protect staff from transmission of infection. Field says the decision to upgrade the officer’s equipment followed a project established in 2008 that looked specifically at staff safety. “The project was initiated to ensure our staff had the equipment they required to effectively and safely do their jobs, and involved representatives from unions representing corrections officers.” While major assaults are relatively rare – in the 2008/09 financial year there were eleven serious assaults against staff that resulted in hospitalisation or ongoing medical treatment – low-level assaults on staff occur almost every day in New Zealand prisons. The project team analysed all staff assaults to ascertain what, if any, additional equipment would have given them greater protection during those incidents. PPE already available to officers consists of helmets, gloves, arm and leg protectors and also a range of mechanical restraints. Field says the new equipment is consistent with that available to staff undertaking similar roles in other international jurisdictions, including Australia and the United Kingdom. It is designed to prevent injury to staff in situations where physical force may be required to manage violent prisoners. The $3.6m investment covers additional training in advanced communication and de-escalation skills, stab resistant body armour, the spit hoods and batons. Corrections
It is international best practice not to introduce items of personal protection that, in the wrong hands, could become weapons. purchased 764 vests across 20 prisons, for use by 3,000 officers. Staff would have access to the equipment in the following situations: • Vests – for the planned control and restraint of a prisoner, during high risk escorts, at vehicle checkpoints, when searching visitors and their cars for contraband items, when a staff member is a drug dog handler undertaking regular duties, and patrolling external perimeters of the site. They will also be available as part of a deployed advanced control and restraint team or responding to an incident as part of the tactical response team. • Spit hoods – all staff who have completed training will have access to spit hoods when managing a prisoner who is spitting. • Batons – only those staff deployed by the advanced control and restraint team will have access to a baton. The prison manager authorises the use of batons, following the regional manager’s approval to deploy a team. Batons can only be used when there is a serious threat to prison security or the safety of any person, when use of the baton will reduce or eliminate that threat, and only if all other means are likely to be ineffective. Field says staff will have access to stabproof vests if a risk assessment warrants their use. Generally, the vests are for use when performing specific, high risk tasks than for general wear. Officers managing maximum security prisoners will not be wearing the vests at all times. Drug dog handlers and officers required to patrol the perimeter fence need to wear vests, as they are dealing with members of the public who present an unknown risk. “Often these officers are dealing with the public in remote locations, away from immediate back up. The vest provides a level of protection in situations where a concealed
weapon might be used.” Field says the introduction of personal protective equipment for all staff all the time would change the dynamics of the prison environment by making it more confrontational, and therefore increasing the risk of assault on staff. It is international best practice not to introduce items of personal protection that, in the wrong hands, could become weapons. She says the majority of assaults reviewed during research for the staff safety project occurred as a result of a prisoner punching an officer in the head, pushing, spitting, elbowing and head-butting. “PPE such as a stab resistant vest would be of little assistance to staff in these instances, and prevention is a key to ensuring that these situations do not develop into violence.” During the staff safety project, a large number of staff identified that the best protection they had for avoiding potentially violent situations with prisoners was their own communications skills, and ability to ‘talk down’ or de-escalate a situation with a prisoner. Three additional days of training in communication and de-escalation skills will be made available to about 3,500 custodial staff. The department has completed the first stage of a trial into the use of pepper spray and is now looking to move to a 12 month operational trial using two types of the product. The project team considered the use of Tasers in the prison environment, however it was not recommended they be introduced, and if needed can be deployed by the police. Field says the department has procedures for quickly responding to incidents where staff may require the additional equipment. In all incidents where new equipment is used staff must complete incident reports and the circumstances of each incident are reviewed S by senior staff. J u ly / A ug u st 2 0 1 0
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Head-to-toe protection JACKIE BROWN-HAYSOM talks to two OHS managers who know just how effective PPE can be. Josh (pictured) was a young carpentry apprentice, working for Palmerston North con st r uc t ion compa ny McMi l la n a nd Lockwood at a multi-storey project in the central city. He had been working on an upper level and had just come down in a scissor hoist when a heavy wooden shutter fell from the top of a concrete column some 4.5 metres above. It fell edge-on, striking the top of his head with a force that knocked him to the ground. As onlookers hurried towards him, he got to his feet unsteadily, stumbled, and fell again. Before workmates could reach him, however, he picked himself up once more, shook himself in a slightly dazed way and removed his hard hat, revealing cracks that had almost snapped it in two. Mike McDermott, health and safety manager for McMillan and Lockwood, arrived on site a few minutes later, to find workers looking at one another – and at Josh – in astonishment. The young man had no obvious injuries and seemed less shaken by the incident than those who had witnessed it. A hospital assessment, looking for possible spinal injuries and concussion, gave him a clean bill of health and he was discharged in little more than an hour. “He had no injuries – not even a headache – and he was back on the job at 7 the next morning,” McDermott says. “I’m still staggered by what happened. How the hell did that something like that happen without any consequences? “Without the hat a direct hit would almost certainly have killed him, and even a glancing blow could have broken his neck.” Eighteen months later Josh no longer works
“Without the hat a direct hit would almost certainly have killed him, and even a glancing blow could have broken his neck.”
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for McMillan and Lockwood but, with his permission, photos of his damaged hat and the wooden slab that hit it are on the wall at every company site office. “If we ever have a problem with people putting beanies under their hard hats or something we pull Josh’s pictures off the wall and show S them,” McDermott says. “It gets the message through.”
Boots save toes It was Patrick Burdon’s third day in a new job. The 24-year-old had been employed as a laboratory worker but, as part of his orientation, he was spending time in other parts of the plant to familiarise himself with all areas of operation. When he spotted a couple of workers on the factory floor struggling to manoeuvre an electric motor onto a forklift, he was quick to lend a hand. As he moved into position, however, one of the workmen lost his grip on the motor and it crashed to the floor, landing heavily on Burdon’s right foot. Shocked workmates lifted the motor and unlaced his boot, fearing what they might find. Burdon was in luck, however. He was wearing a pair of steel-capped boots – issued to him just that morning – and while the top of his foot was scraped and there was some bruising on his toes, the large dent in the boot’s toecap showed how much worse things might have been. A trip to the local emergency department confirmed there was no serious damage, and, although a little footsore, he was back on the job next morning. Today, some twenty years later, Burdon works as health and safety coordinator at Port Marlborough. He’s learnt a lot about OHS in the intervening years, but has never forgotten this first very practical lesson in the importance of wearing protective equipment. “Without the safety boot I would have had multiple fractures, at best, and could potentially have lost some toes,” he says. “They kept the damaged boot in the plant for quite a while so they could show people what a difference protective footwear can make.”
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Falling object Lessons from a workplace accident. A plastic injection moulder operator was killed when a 1100kg synthetic super sack containing texPET pellets fell on top of him.
The injuries: The operator suffered severe chest and multiple internal injuries when crushed by the super sack against a collection bin. Thanks to the Department of Labour for its assistance with the preparation of this column.
• The workplace was cluttered, which meant the super sacks had to be stacked. • The operator stacked three super sacks on top of each other against a supporting wall. • No stabilisation was positioned between the top and middle sacks to support them. • The highest super sack compressed, causing a change in its positioning and stability on the middle sack.
• Synthetic-type super sacks should be stored at ground level. • Where there is a requirement for super sacks to be stacked vertically, precautions should be taken to prevent them moving or settling by vibration. • The employer must have an effective method to support and restrain the stacked super sacks. • As a result of this incident the DoL has produced a Hazard Management Bulletin: Stacking 1100kg Synthetic Material Super Sacks. This is available on its website.
Less time and money to learn first aid
St John says it can also be fun. The investment in time and money to meet first aid guidelines has often been daunting in the past. Sending staff away for two days of training can be a big ask for some small to medium businesses. This has meant that many businesses have not had trained first aiders in place. First aid training is important. It is one of those things that you think you will never need, or something that you keep thinking you must get around to doing. Often something happens and people are not prepared, leaving them wondering “what if we did have someone who knew first aid?”. First aid training can assist in preventing accidents happening and is also a portable skill that can be used outside of the workplace, making it an attractive staff development exercise.
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The Department of Labour released their new first aid guide last year – “First Aid For Workplaces – A Good Practice Guide”. This Guide provides employers with the ability to train staff in first aid at a level appropriate to their workplace risks. Not all workplaces are the same, and depending on risk factors, a shorter course may be appropriate for you. The Good Pract ice Guide provides a risk assessment tool to help you determine your risks and therefore what first aid training is recommended. St John can help you with this risk assessment, but it is not difficult to do yourself. Many small to medium sized businesses will find they are at a low risk level. This means a shorter first aid course is suitable for them. If you are situated in a
metropolitan area (e.g. close to ambulance/medical services), have few staff, and your work is with light machinery or officetype work, you are probably “low risk”. St John has launched a new Workplace First Aid Express course to cater for the needs of low risk businesses. It is a fun, interactive one day course that covers all the basics of first aid. The Workplace First Aid Express course is designed to provide you with the confidence to recognise life
threatening situations and to offer vital assistance to a patient before more experienced help arrives. As New Zealand’s primary provider of ambulance services, we care what happens in the first aid situation. Completing a first aid course is not just about getting a certificate, it’s about having the confidence to know what to do. For more information or to book, visit www.st john.org. nz or phone 0800 FIRSTAID (0800 347782).
To have a defib, or not? The answer was clear to the question of purchasing defibrillators for Kapiti Coast’s public swimming pools, says THERESA KHATCHIAN.
Her e at K apit i Coas t Dis t ric t Council events around the use of defibrillators made the purchase of them for our swimming pool sites no longer an option, but a must. In October 2008 a customer suffered a cardiac arrest (coroner’s report) in one of our pools. At this time there was no defibrillator on site. An ambulance was called while CPR was given. The ambulance arrived from Levin but had no defibrillator. Another ambulance was called with a defibrillator – however, it was too late. Remember time is precious.
The sooner a cardiac arrest is recognised and acted on, the higher the chances of survival. Naturally there was a DoL enquiry around this event, followed by a recommendation to have defibrillators installed at all of our pool sites. The chain of survival depends on fast reactions. The sooner a cardiac arrest is recognised and acted on, the higher the chances of survival. From December 2008 to January 2009, at another of our pools, there were four events where members of the public had to be given CPR as they had experienced a sudden cardiac arrest. This was now a significant problem for the pool lifeguards. Cardiac arrest doesn’t wait for funding or investigations or research or time – it strikes without warning quickly, and quietly. The last rescue of the lifeguards before defibrillators were installed at a council pool made headlines in the local newspaper in February 2009. A 56-year-old man suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while swimming at the
Raumati Pool. A former lifeguard himself, and a competitive swimmer, the man’s heart failure came out of the blue. Lifeguards and members of the public performed CPR on him for 15 minutes – keeping blood and oxygen flowing to his brain and vital organs – until paramedics brought him back to life with a defibrillator. He was rushed to Wellington Hospital where he spent more than two weeks recovering. No one knew what had triggered the cardiac arrest, but surgeons implanted an internal cardiovascular defibrillator so if it happened again it would automatically shock him back to l i fe. He approac hed t he KCDC to offer to fundraise for a defibrillator for the pools, however the council had already pu rc hased t hem, a nd were awaiting their arrival.
Sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack or a stroke or any other form of coronary heart disease that can be treated with diet, exercise, surgery or medication. When you suffer an arrest your heart suddenly stops. You lose consciousness. In 95% of such incidents, you die. This is called sudden cardiac death. The American Heart Association has created a response model that is endorsed throughout the world. It is called the chain of survival. When it is followed, the survival rate can soar from 5% to nearly 50%. Here it is: • Ea rly access/recog n it ion (Call an ambulance on 111) • Early CPR • Early defibrillation • Early access to advanced medical care (the 111 paramedics) Defibrillation must begin immediately. Your chances of survival decline by 10% for every minute that passes without your heart receiving an electric shock.
After ten minutes your chances for survival are less than 1%. The national average response time from the time you place a 111 call to the time the paramedics arrive is from seven minutes to ten minutes. Defibrillation can’t wait for the ambulance to arrive. Seventy percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur in the home or the workplace. Fewer than 5% of the victims survive – but your survival chance goes right up to 50% if you have a defibrillator. After 20 seconds from the onset of a sudden cardiac arrest, your brain loses oxygen and starts to die. Long term organ damage can begin after four minutes without the heart receiving an electrical shock. If you have been getting CPR you might have eight more minutes to live.
the user’s command. Semi-automatic models will tell the user that a shock is needed, but the user must tell the machine to do so, usually by pressing a button. In most circumstances, the user ca n not override a “no shock” advisory by a defibrillator. Some defibrillators may be used on children – those under 55 lbs (25 kg) in weight or under age 8. All defibrillators approved for use in NZ use an electronic voice to prompt users through each step. Most units are designed for use by non-medical operators. Their ease of use has given rise to the notion of public access defibrillation (PAD), which experts agree has the potential to be the single greatest advance in the treatment of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest since the invention of CPR.
Simplicity of use
A defibrillator requires very little training to use. It automatically diagnoses the heart rhythm and determines if a shock is needed. Automatic models will administer the shock without
Theresa Khatchian is the H&S advisor at the Kapiti Coast District Council.
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Photo: Peter Bateman
Doing A something Wright PETER BATEMAN meets Jodi Wright, the Safeguard health and safety practitioner of the year.
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s national health and safety manager for Acrow Ltd, Jodi Wright operates in a largely male world. Within a staff of just over 250, she can all but name the handful of women in the company – a couple at each branch, and half a dozen at head office in the Auckland industrial suburb of Penrose. Not that it bothers her. She’s worked in several construction companies before joining Acrow a little over two years ago. She is familiar with male working environments, the banter, the nicknames – hers isn’t fit for a family publication – and she gives as good as she gets. “I’ve heard every derogatory remark about females you can imagine. I just let it blow over.” When I catch up with her a week after the awards gala dinner, the Safeguard health and safety practitioner of the year explains she felt a wreck at the time. She’d been preparing for her final exam to complete her Masters in health and safety from the University of Newcastle, an exam she sat in Auckland the day of the awards. Then, after
“I’m gobsmacked that people still spend money on presenting these beautiful manuals, but they’re so high-faluting the guys couldn’t use them.” winning, she was swept off to celebrate in a bar and to watch the All Whites do battle on the big screen. Acrow, she explains, is a company which does scaffolding, formwork and falsework, and temporary event seating. It’s a tough business and she has enormous respect for the men who work in all weathers and at some scary heights, skilfully manhandling heavy materials – even if they occasionally overlook that what they regard as just another day at the office is a precarious place to be. “They can forget where they are working because it’s everyday stuff for them. They’re up and doing something and forget to hook on, because it’s routine.” Despite this, what gives her greatest satisfaction is the way health and safety has become integrated – her word is infiltrated – into the company’s way of doing things, driven by completely overhauled systems she has put in place, and including an annual health and safety plan listing the things to be achieved. Not that it’s been easy. “I’ll never forget my first managers meeting, with all the branch managers. At the end of the day I thought what have I walked into? There was a lot of scepticism, and challenges to what I was trying to achieve. I was really pleased the managing director was extremely supportive.” It seems a good moment to mention managing director Mark Irvine’s comment in nominating Wright for the award – that
she has had the single biggest impact on the company’s culture and performance of any employee – but Wright is not about to wallow in this high praise. “I’m not one to give up easily. At least I’m not having to argue to get my point across any more.” Indeed not. The systems she has introduced have proven so effective they have spread beyond health, safety and environment to now influence all facets of the company’s operations, resulting in her becoming something of a sounding board on HR and other matters. But while she is a fan of good systems, she dismisses the notion of health and safety manuals. “I’m gobsmacked that people still spend money on presenting these beautiful manuals, but they’re so high-faluting the guys couldn’t use them.” Wright’s way is to set up procedures and processes for safe operation and integrate them in a readily accessible way – via an intranet – into the way things are done. Health and safety doesn’t sit on the side. Her route into health and safety came via nursing, then a pharmacy technician’s diploma and a move to Auckland. While working for a roofing company she got involved in ACC claims and soon realised there were better ways of doing claims management and rehabilitation. Later she joined ACC, with more tertiary study in case management, and what she describes as a natural progression into injury prevention.
“You’re working with employers and with serious injuries you find there are similar things causing them, so you sat down with the employer to find the patterns and prevent them.” Later she set up her own OHS consultancy business and operated it successfully until a change in circumstances necessitated a return to a salaried role. Not that she thinks of her approach as “health and safety”, preferring to think of it as risk management. “I operate under the risk concept: review, planning, reinventing, adjusting – it’s a continuous improvement model.” Wright is a Registered Safety Professional with the New Zealand Safety Council, and urges more people to become registered with a professional body to ensure advice to organisations is useful and accurate. “You’ve got a lot of responsibility as a safety person. Companies can spend a lot of money thinking they are doing it right, but doing it all wrong.” She looks a little uncomfortable when asked what she is most proud of achieving during her time at Acrow. Pride isn’t the word she would use. “I’m pleased how well health and safety has infiltrated into the business. How it is now talked about regularly, just as routine, because when I joined you only heard it mentioned as a dirty word. That’s a real change in our culture.” Not that the battle is over. She still has supervisors approach her to sort out safety issues without having first tried for a solution themselves. “They say ‘you’re the health and safety lady, aren’t you?’ No. My job is to give you the tools to do it yourself. It can be hard for S people to take that on board.”
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tubes on site. We’ll go in and do the sampling, but if you provide the equipment, tell us where to take the sample, and tell us what level is acceptable, it saves a lot of time.”
Plan for resilience Dick Thornton-Grimes tells JACKIE BROWN-HAYSOM why you need a good emergency management plan for hazardous substances.
forklift, manoeuvring between shelves in a warehouse, dislodges a pallet stacked with chemical drums. As the drums hit the floor several are damaged and begin leaking a pungent-smelling liquid, which spreads rapidly across the warehouse floor. The forklift driver stops his machine and heads for the exit, shouting to co-workers that there’s been a spill. What happens next? According to Dick Thornton-Grimes, hazardous substances advisor for the Fire Service’s Auckland region, someone will probably dial 111, confident that a fire crew will immediately deal with the situation. “Businesses seem to have an expectation that the Fire Service sits in the station waiting
for their call only, but you may phone when there has been a major callout somewhere else. We’ll always come, but in those circumstances it will take longer.” Thornton-Grimes says for many businesses the full extent of their hazardous substances emergency plan is an instruction to call the Fire Service, but a more proactive approach benefits everyone. “Some situations can be dealt without external assistance and, even when the Fire Service is needed, there is a lot you can do that will both make things easier for us and help you get your business up and running again more quickly. “For instance, people think we have monitoring equipment for every substance in existence, but if you use ammonia refrigerants, you should have ammonia detector
Internal resilience Thornton-Grimes says companies need a level of “internal resilience” – plans and resources to start dealing with an emergency themselves rather than abandoning this responsibility to the emergency services. Part of this is having the right protective equipment and absorbents for all substances on site. “Our responsibility is to render the emergency safe, which means we will right the drum and help contain any spill, but if there is no other immediate threat and the scene is stabilised, our job is done. It’s over to you to reinstate your site or dispose of the waste.” If the right equipment isn’t on site the Fire Service will keep the area closed until it gets what it needs to deal with the emergency. Disposal of hazardous waste can cause further delays, and Thornton-Grimes encourages businesses to contact companies that provide this service before they are needed. “If you have hazardous waste to get rid of at two o’clock in the morning it’s really helpful if you already know who to call, and they know who you are.” After visiting a large number of Auckland businesses over recent months, ThorntonGrimes is astonished by the casual approach many adopt to hazardous substance management. “If you ask how sales are going they can tell you straight away, but if you ask what hazardous substances they have on site, they usually aren’t too sure. Given the huge potential for loss if there is an incident, I really wonder about this.” Creating a plan The good news is that effective emergency management plans aren’t difficult, if you follow basic steps. First step is to compile a comprehensive inventory of substances on site and where they are held. It’s also an opportunity to check storage arrangements to ensure incompatible chemicals, such as oxidisers and flammables, are adequately separated. Once you’ve done that, you can start thinking about scenarios – the things that could go wrong. Thornton-Grimes has seen emergency response plans for tornados, tsunami and planes falling from the sky, but says the focus should be on more probable events. “You need to think about what is reasonably foreseeable. For most workplaces that will be a spill, some sort of human contact – inhalation, ingestion, splashes to the skin or eyes – and fire. J U LY / AU G U S T 2 0 1 0
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HSNO “Ask yourself how each substance will react in these situations. Will they explode? “If you go through the three scenarios properly you’ll cover an awful lot of bases.” It’s also the time to consider what incidents can be managed without external assistance. “Talk to us about what’s reasonable. I helped a school with this recently and we agreed that they had the resources to cope with a classroom spill, but for incidents in the storeroom or the external hazardous substance bunker they would call the Fire Service right away.” Accessible information Some emergency response plans merely refer people to a substance’s safety data sheet, but Thornton-Grimes cautions against this. “In an emergency you need to get to the nub very quickly and when you are under pressure it isn’t always easy to find the information you need in a data sheet. You should have them available, but it’s good to have a plain language, easily understood emergency response guide too.” There are books that provide this information, but it’s not enough to simply have one on the shelf. Read it and use it to prepare a simple flowchart of what to do, when, Thornton-Grimes advises. “Ask yourself what you need to cope with each scenario, make sure you have that equipment available, and prepare a chart or checklist that takes you through the steps. “For a spill, for instance, you should list what PPE is needed, what type of absorbent to use, and where everything is kept.” Don’t assume that the absorbent for one type of spill is suitable for another. Moss, peat, sawdust and kitty litter, regularly used for class 3 (flammable liquid) spills, cannot be used for class 5 substances (oxidisers). “Often safety data sheets just say to use an absorbent, so if you’re not sure what you need ask the manufacturer or an industry body like the NZ Chemical Industry Council (NZCIC).”
Support for emergency services Emergency management doesn’t stop when situations are too serious to be managed inhouse. The scene should be evacuated and cordoned off, and absorbents used to contain spills as much as possible. It is also important to identify the substances involved and tell the Fire Service. “If anyone has come into contact with the substance you need to contain them too. Often people get a spill on them and wander away to help others, which makes the situation worse. You need to keep them in one place, away from others, until they can be decontaminated.” Good information is critical for the Fire Service, so an emergency plan should also ensure site signage is accurate and up-todate, and substances are identified by UN or
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CAS number rather than brand name. “The types of substance on site have a big effect on how we manage incidents, so when you call the Fire Service tell us what we’ll be dealing with. “Trade names aren’t universal, so our first preference is for a UN number or then a CAS number. If neither is available we’ll need the active ingredients. “You don’t need to be a chemist to provide a four-digit UN number – it will be on the safety data sheet. And if a fire crew has to radio for more information it’s a lot easier to use UN1306 than to ask about 3-tert-butylperoxy-3-phenylphthalide.” * For more information about hazardous substance emergency plans go to the Fire S Service website at www.fire.org.nz.
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Photos: Mike Stephens
More than 460 people gathered at Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre to celebrate finalists and winners at the 2010 NZ Workplace Health & Safety Awards gala dinner. Following are the finalists and winners in all categories.
ttendance broke all records at the sixth annual awards gala dinner, when 465 people from all over the country gathered to enjoy hearing about successful health and safety initiatives and to celebrate both finalists and winners. The New Zealand Workplace Health & Safety Awards are organised by Safeguard publisher Thomson Reuters, with the proud support of the Department of Labour. Minister of Labour the Hon Kate Wilkinson was in attendance and presented the supreme award. A gala dinner on this scale is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors – OfficeMax, Impac, Transfield Services, Air New Zealand, SICK, NZ Safety, ACC, Department of Labour, and the Council of Trade Unions – and we thank them for their involvement in what has become the country’s most significant annual gathering relating to health and safety. When the 238 delegates to the concurrent Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference are taken into account – many of whom attended the awards – it is safe to say well over 600 people were brought together over the two days of the conference and awards dinner. MC John Campbell was enthusiastically cheered by the large crowd as he arrived on stage. Afterwards there was a queue of diners wanting to have their picture taken with him. He later commented that it was “lovely” to see an awards evening at which all walks of life were present, from chief executive to the factory floor, and to hear so many people speak with heartfelt sincerity about the initiatives they had been part of. We at Safeguard would like to congratulate everyone who took the time to enter the awards. We acknowledge it takes a little effort to write up an initiative, but the feedback we have received is that the process of reviewing the year’s activity is valuable in itself, as it provides reinforcement of jobs well done and a focus for future actions. So be sure to start taking note of your most successful OHS initiatives over the next few months to be ready to write them up as entries into next year’s awards.
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Awards 2010 Air New Zealand best initiative to address a safety hazard. The finalists:
Hawkins Environmental • The task was to safely clear all waste from a 25 metre wide and 10 metre deep World War 2 fuel bunker in Canterbury, containing banned pesticides and herbicides, car bodies, general rubbish, and suspected unexploded ordnance. • There was a risk of explosion and fire should volatile materials and vapours mix, and at 10 metres deep the bunker presented a fall risk, and the non-dispersal of airborne contaminants. • The bunker was safely cleared and the waste sorted and disposed of without injuries. Transpacific Waste Management • Operators of small rear-loader rubbish compactor trucks are exposed to a pinch point as the compactor’s paddles rotate through their cycle. Around 400 of these vehicles have been imported. • The design of the trucks allows operators to put their arms into the hopper to retrieve items. • Efforts to eliminate the hazard by reprogramming the computers that control the hydraulics proved unreliable and frustrating. • Instead, a transparent plastic barrier was installed, and the hydraulics reconfigured with a “hold-to-run” button, to isolate the operator from the pinch point.
Lee Busby and Keith Stolberger accept the occupational health award on behalf of Total Bridge Services.
Tumu Timbers Ltd • Operates a timber remanufacturing business making bins and pallets, with a high seasonal staff turnover. • Staff use nail guns to make pallets. An experienced operator can use 40,000 nails a day. There had been 25 nailgun injuries in five years, some serious. • A new induction training programme including an instructional video, revised standard operating procedures, and competency testing has dramatically cut injuries and boosted product quality.
The winner: Hawkins Environmental
The judges acknowledged the size and unusually risky nature of this clean-up project, and the systematic way in which it was tackled. No staff were permitted in the bunker, and crane spotters were positioned on its rim behind a protective shield in case of explosion. Towards the end an excavator and its operator were lowered into the pit by crane, with comprehensive measures for the operator to breathe good air and to be extracted by crane in an emergency. Further protocols were followed to ensure staff sorting the recovered material were not exposed to chemical or radioactive or manual handling hazards.
Department of Labour best initiative to address a health hazard. The finalists:
Seth Pardoe from Hawkins Environmental accepts the award for best safety initiative.
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Air New Zealand • Invested five million dollars in a new flexible mobile conveyor belt system to service baggage loading into the airline’s domestic Boeing 737 fleet.
• The system moves passenger baggage from carts and correctly positions it deep within the hold. • It eliminates the extensive amount of particularly awkward manual handling previously carried out by the airline’s 450 ramp staff. KiwiRail • Developed a triple-head orbital pneumatic sanding machine for sanding trains in the workshop, replacing the traditional single-head machine. • The new device eliminates a serious vibration hazard, and eliminates or greatly reduces other health hazards traditionally associated with the task, including dust, noise, and postural stress. • As a bonus, the sanding process is now much faster. Total Bridge Services • A project to strengthen the box girder extensions on the Auckland harbour bridge’s clip-on lanes exposed the 150 workers to health hazards including high temperatures, harmful chemicals, and high noise levels. • Solutions included changes to shift patterns, the installation of air ventilation and fume extraction systems, and changes to pain removal methods to minimise lead absorption. • Staff were blood tested monthly and procedures and processes improved continuously using the results.
The winner: Total Bridge Services
The judges were impressed by the comprehensive approach taken to a quite daunting array of occupational health risks on this major project. The company also largely
eliminated a major manual handling risk by installing two electric trains to deliver 920 tonnes of steel through the bridge’s girders.
• The company recruited wellbeing champions and created wellbeing focus groups to ensure the programme focuses on the needs of staff.
Officemax best initiative to improve employee wellness.
Log Transport Safety Council • Recruited 45 truck drivers from around the country into a pilot “Fit for the Road” programme lasting a year to tackle identified problems with the health of its ageing workforce. • The programme included individual health checks and monthly themes covering exercise, smoking, weight loss, and the completion of a food diary. • The results included a significantly lower cardiovascular risk, including lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Air New Zealand • The challenge was to add to the existing wellbeing programme to reach 11,000 staff working in the air and on the ground in all time zones around the world. • The programme includes “lunch and learn” seminars with external expert speakers, and the MyBrainSolutions state of the art brain health programme.
Vicki Berkahn from Pernod Ricard New Zealand accepts the wellness award.
Pernod Ricard New Zealand • A wellness programme was launched after a significant proportion of the company’s manufacturing plant staff was identified as being at high health risk. • The health perceptions of the workforce were surveyed, and optional subsidised individual health checks offered. Both had an uptake of more than 70%. Participants were given $100 to assist lifestyle changes. • Mont h ly i n for mat ion t hemes were boosted with company financial subsidies related to the theme, such as smoking cessation devices or melanoma skin checks.
The winner: Pernod Ricard New Zealand
The judges were impressed by the programme’s very high participation rate. The company identified its workforce demographic and linked its initiatives to existing public health programmes for maximum benefit at minimum cost to staff. The results included significant and sustained reduction in days lost to illness.
NZ Safety best initiative to encourage engagement in health & safety. The finalists:
Antarctica New Zealand • A rise in injuries prompted a complete redesign of the induction for seasonal staff heading to Antarctica, to focus solely on preparing people to work safely in those conditions. • Adult learning principles were used to create a new culture of safety, including real-life case studies of safety incidents, reinforced by using returning staff as facilitators. • By the end of the summer season the injury trend had been reversed, and a culture survey revealed that a huge majority of staff now felt that others held them to account for behaving safely.
Congratulations to Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd for winning the Impac best health and safety initiative by a large organisation.
L to R: Gary Romano, Mike Cosman, Dean Young
www.impac.co.nz Freephone 0800 476 588 Impac – working to keep your work safe
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Metrowater Ltd • A 2007 culture survey showed low levels of staff engagement with the company’s health & safety management system. Staff were confused and were content to leave safety to the committee. • As a result, action was taken to address management, structure, systems, training and communication issues. • A culture survey late last year showed significant improvement in engagement. Also, incident reporting has skyrocketed, elections for safety rep positions are now hotly contested, and lost-time injuries are well down. Mangere Distribution Centre – The Supply Chain, Progressive Enterprises Ltd • Staff of 500 at a distribution centre faced machinery and manual handling risks. • A multi-part engagement programme included movement training, and training managers in the i-Lead behavioural questioning tool. • Managers now regularly use i-Lead conversations to engage with staff about safe and unsafe behaviours, which are summarised at weekly briefings. Satara Co-operative Group Ltd • Employs more than 1000 seasonal staff across seven sites for kiwifruit packing and storage. • The challenge was to deliver a consistent health & safety induction and training message to staff from multiple cultures, many with very limited English, while still engaging permanent staff. • Developed three induction DVDs using children from a local primary school to direct, shoot and act out safe and unsafe behaviours in the packing sheds, and to deliver other key employment information.
NZ Safety’s Eric Haslam congratulates Candy Gray and Angela Healey from Satara Co-operative Group Ltd, winner of the engagement category.
The winner: Satara Co-operative Group Ltd
The judges found the DVDs very engaging, using child actors to hold audience attention, and using visuals rather than script to convey key safety messages in a way reminiscent of the old silent movies. The judges also appreciated how the company engaged with the local school to provide children an opportunity to shoot meaningful videos. This interaction between company and school has succeeded in driving the safety message into the local community via the families involved.
Judges’ special commendation: Ballance Agri-Nutrients
Many of this fertiliser company’s nationwide staff are required to work at height. Staff authorised to issue height permits must be fully trained in safe work at height, including fall arrest. While it has a staff member who is fully qualified to run internal training, it lacked any facilities to do so. Staff had to be sent to a variety of external training providers. The company felt it was important that
Willie Thompson from Ballance Agri-Nutrients explains how he designed and built a height training facility, which gained a special commendation.
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staff were trained by someone they knew and trusted, and who was familiar with their work. So their trainer, Willie Thompson, designed and managed the construction of an on-site facility for height work and fall arrest training. The judges were impressed that the company took it upon itself to undertake the construction of its own safety training facility, and made use of the expertise of its own staff. The company also makes its new facility available to others in the community, such as Civil Defence.
SICK best use of design to eliminate or isolate a hazard. The finalists:
Otaki Fire Brigade • Brigade members attending vehicle smashes are placed at risk of being struck by passing cars as they try to extricate injured victims from the smash using conventional equipment. • A volunteer firefighter designed a portable rapid extraction beam to swiftly straighten out a twisted car chassis so that victims may be more quickly and more comfortably extricated. • Use of the manually operated beam reduces time spent exposed to other traffic, and requires no electrical or hydraulic leads.
ers trying to extract the victims, medical personnel trying to aid the victims, and of course the crash victims themselves. Unlike other victim extraction techniques, the beam introduces no new hazards into the accident situation. The judges also appreciated how easily other emergency services could adopt this solution for themselves.
Transfield Services best health and safety initiative by a small business. The finalists:
G T Liddell Contracting Ltd • 45 staff work in civil construction, transport and general engineering. • It was having difficulty in communicating
its safety messages in a way that made sense to its workforce. • It introduced a workplace literacy and numeracy programme based on relevant health & safety messages, and has now developed an audio-visual software package to present safety information visually as well, and to check each person’s understanding. Kimmy’s Moto-X Park • This husband-and-wife business employs up to five part-time staff in the summer season, and has made a concerted effort to address rider safety issues in a high-risk field of adventure tourism • It enforces strict rules on rider protective equipment and behaviour, and the tracks are designed so that staff can monitor
Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) Ltd • Developed an alternative to traditional concrete manholes which eliminated the need for confined space entry into the sewage lines installed at the new Auckland Women’s prison. • The solution is a 600mm-wide polyethylene pit which allows inspection and flushing of the sewer lines to be conducted safely from the surface via CCTV. • The pits may be installed using a trench shield, and their much smaller diameter eliminates accidental access by children.. Wellington Free Ambulance • Staff found traditional ambulances unsafe to work in due to unrestrained and widely dispersed equipment, heavy oxygen tanks and defibrilators, and difficulty working on patients while being strapped in. • A staff group designed a new interior based on how paramedics actually work. • Now paramedics’ seats can swivel or be locked in place, surfaces are hygienic aluminium, there is a side entrance, and heavy gear is easily accessible.
The winner: Otaki Fire Brigade
Tammy Metcalfe proudly displays the trophy won by the Otaki Fire Brigade for best use of design. The brigade’s winning entry was designed by her late father, a volunteer member of the brigade.
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riders at all times and respond swiftly to incidents. • It offers riders specialist coaching to upgrade their skills and reduce incidents; the accident rate has much reduced. Sorensen Furniture Co • The company of 20 staff and over 100 woodworking machines has transformed its health & safety practices from “management by good luck” to a strong degree of management and staff engagement. • Significant improvements have been made to machine guarding, noise, dust extraction, and the ergonomics of production workflow, also resulting in higher productivity. • Improvements in health & safety have led to a much greater degree of communication between management and staff generally.
The winner: G T Liddell Contracting Ltd
The judges liked how the company used literacy and numeracy as a pathway into improved health and safety understanding. The company went beyond written material to develop an audio-visual approach which also assesses an individual’s understanding. The company is now sharing this audiovisual approach with industry associations.
Graham Liddell looks happy that his company G T Liddell Contracting Ltd from Greymouth won the small business category.
Impac best significant health & safety initiative by a large organisation. The finalists:
Air New Zealand • The airline’s disabled passenger project sought to simplify manual handling of passengers to reduce the risk of injury to passengers and staff. • A wide-ranging consultation exercise included disability advocacy groups, airline staff, medical and legal experts, and other airlines. • The company designed a purpose-built mobile chair and introduced a slide board and transfer belt technique, which together allow a same-level transfer of passengers from the aisle to the aircraft seat – with no lifting. • Injuries to staff from disabled passenger transferred have fallen 22%, passenger complaints are down 23%, and flight delays have dropped 25%. Fletcher Building Ltd • Produced a DVD to illustrate the ripple effect of injuries on colleagues, family, and the company. • Employees injured at work are filmed talking about how their injury happened, and how others were affected by it.
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• In one instance, the wife and two daughters of an employee who was killed at work discuss the impact of their loss. • All staff have had the opportunity to see the DVD and to reflect on those who would be most affected should they be injured. Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd • A fatality 18 months ago gave new impetus to the introduction of a health & safety strategy and management systems to fit its global operations in half a dozen countries. • The new global framework has been swiftly enacted and includes a global safety audit, a “flash reporting” system to capture incidents, and the reporting of all hazard data to senior management. • More than 200 risks scoring 20 or more on a risk matrix have been identified and stopped until control measures are in place. • Total recorded incident frequency rate has dropped 82% in 3 years.
The winner: Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd
The company realised its former New Zealand-centric approach was no longer appropriate for a global company. The judges liked the company’s worldwide safety vision – “Safety for Life” – and its acknowledgment that repeat incidents are evidence of an out-of-control operation. The new global framework has successfully engaged the executive team, management and staff in focusing on safe operations.
Fonterra ’s team at the gala dinner celebrate the company’s win in the large organisation category.
ACC best leadership of an industry sector. The finalists:
Douglas Manufacturing Ltd • As a pharmaceutical manufacturer, the challenge was to manage the raw materials in a way which complied with the hazardous substances legislation. • Rather than just do so in a way which met the company’s requirements, a staff member chose to create a Group Standard which can be used by everyone. • The Group Standard is now in the final stages of being approved by ERMA. Onyx Group Ltd • This waste collection company’s safety performance in 2007 was so unsatisfactory it reviewed its entire operation and appointed new leadership.
ACC’s Dr Keith McLea presents Douglas Manufacturing’s Toni Hipperson with the trophy for the leadership category.
• The company invited external agencies to critique its operation, resulting in a critical report which galvanised further improvements, including reducing annual lost-time injuries from 47 to 1. • The company has contributed to industry efforts to eliminate manual handling from solid waste collection, a move which would eliminate most of the industry’s injuries PAK’nSAVE Hastings • The owner-operated store’s workfit/wellness programme started in 2007 in a bid to boost staff morale and reduce absenteeism and staff turnover. • High levels of participation among its 400 staff have seen the programme expand each year, to the extent it is now a permanent part of the way the store does business. • Absenteeism is down 31%, staff turnover has halved, and morale is high. • The store’s initiative is now being examined by Foodstuffs Wellington Group with a view to replicating it across other stores. Prime Forest Management Ltd • It has created a competition for the forestry sector called Top Spot, aimed at increasing engagement of harvesting and silviculture crews. • Assessors visit participating crews twice a year, marking individuals and crews against best practice criteria around safety and quality. • Results are shared with participating crews, and the best receive certificates and trophies on a regional and nationwide basis.
The winner: Douglas Manufacturing Ltd
The judges appreciated the leadership and generosity displayed by creating a Group Standard which would assist the whole pharmaceutical industry. The resulting Pharmaceutical Active Ingredients Group Standard is the first group standard to be created by industry. The procedural knowledge gained will also assist other industry sectors when they come to write their own group standards for safe chemicals management. J u ly / A ug u st 2 0 1 0
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Safeguard health and safety practitioner of the year. The finalists:
Adrian Brown – Lincoln University • Adrian’s enthusiasm for his role has been dangerously infectious and his impact on health & safety on the campus has been profound. • His expert knowledge of risk management has been honed in part by his personal pursuits, which include skydiving and hang gliding. • He personally mentors the many health & safety representatives on the campus, and takes particular care in organising rehabilitation for staff who injure themselves at work or at home. • His focus on risk management has extended to developing business continuity plans for the university, enabling an outbreak of Nora virus to be successfully managed. Denva Galloway – Progressive Enterprises Ltd • Denva’s ability to influence the senior management team has been a key driver in the company’s improved safety performance. • She understands the importance of making safety visible and spends much
time in the company’s 160 sites around New Zealand. • She has been instrumental in developing a culture of safety, and has a keen awareness of the right moment to introduce new initiatives for maximum uptake and effectiveness. Jodi Wright – Acrow Ltd • Jodi has been instrumental in the development of the company’s health & safety processes and ensuring they are understood and applied nationwide. • She has successfully challenged the prevailing attitude towards safety, taking it from the “too hard” basket and turning it into a natural part of the company’s culture. • She has turned around attitudes to injury management so that staff return to work much more quickly than before.
The winner: Jodi Wright
The judges liked Jodi’s highly focused and well organised approach to transforming the company’s health and safety and injury management methods. Her methods are not radical but her effectiveness as an agent for change is in no doubt. The judges agreed with the managing director, who identified her as the individual who has had the biggest positive impact on the company’s performance and culture.
Ross Wilson – NZCTU most influential employee. The finalists:
Darren Morris – WPI International Ltd • Darren is an electrical engineer who is trained in industrial rope access and provides training to others on fall arrest and rescue – sometimes on his days off. • He jointly coordinates the management of the sites’ emergency response team and has set up training programmes for confined space and gas detection work. • He has undertaken 200 hours of fall arrest training in his own time, and is a member of the local search and rescue team. Destine Roycroft – Quality Bakers NZ • Destine is a bread plant supervisor who since her first formal health & safety training last year has become a safety champion. • She has raised the frequency and depth of incident and near-miss reporting. Her reports are so focused on root causes they are now used as best practice examples for training. • She has lifted staff engagement with safety by giving a production perspective with a safety twist to team talks and reviews of standard procedures. Etuati (Ed) Fili – CHEP New Zealand • Ed works at the company’s Wiri site and is a member of the Auckland health & safety committee. • His work on incident reporting, auditing and injury management helped CHEP Auckland to second place in Asia-Pacific on an external risk management audit. • He translates a lot of safety material into Samoan for the site’s large contingent of Samoan staff, and champions safety in the wider Pacific community.
The winner: Etuati Fili
The judges admired Ed’s willingness to take his knowledge of health and safety into public forums within Manukau’s Pacific community. He is part of the Puataunofo Project’s health & safety rep committee and has led this group’s discussion of hazard identification and incident reporting. He has led CHEP’s involvement in an ACC scheme to address injuries to staff outside the workplace, and in getting staff involved in gout research. Health and safety practitioner of the year Jodi Wright with Acrow Ltd’s managing director Mark Irvine.
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Air New Zealand lifetime achievement award This is a discretionary award which enables the judging panel to recognise people who have devoted a significant portion of their working life to advancing the cause of health & safety in New Zealand. People who receive this award will have made a difference by virtue of an innovative and effective approach, the ability to influence others, and to inspire action at multiple levels. The award was introduced for the first time in 2008, when Ed Grootegoed and Dr Bill Glass were the recipients. Last year Marlene Thomson and Ross Wilson were acknowledged. This year the judges acknowledged an academic who has made his contribution in the field of research. Professor Neil Pearce is the director of Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research, based in Wellington. He has been active in occupational health research for more than 20 years, specialising in occupational cancers and occupational respiratory disease. As a research leader, he was director of the Asthma Research Group of the Wellington School of Medicine from 1996 to 2000, and for the last 10 years has been director of the Centre for Public Health Research. He also headed the National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee, which for five years from 2004 produced a series of benchmark reports on the state of occupational health and safety in New Zealand, with recommendations for improvement. Under his leadership, the risks of respiratory disease and causal exposures in welders, NZCTU’s Tina McIvor looks on as Ed Fili explains how he came to be standing at the podium as winner of the most influential employee award.
Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson looks on as Lee Busby and colleagues from Total Bridge Services celebrate taking out the Supreme Award.
farmers, mussel openers, hairdressers, asbestos workers, saw mill workers, and plywood mill workers have been identified. His research has also identified elevated risks of cancer in various occupational groups, including producers and sprayers of phenoxy herbicides, meat workers, pulp and paper workers, farmers, and timber workers exposed to pentachlorophenol. A recent study conducted by CPHR under his leadership has for the first time assessed the current and future burden of occupational ill-health in New Zealand. Professor Pearce has made a major contribution in placing occupational health firmly on New Zealand’s research and policy agenda.
The Department of Labour/ACC best overall contribution to improving workplace health and safety in New Zealand. To decide the supreme winner the judges considered the winners of the eight organisational categories.
The winner: Total Bridge Services (winner of the occupational health category)
The judges were impressed by the meticulous care and attention to detail taken to protect and monitor workers on the harbour bridge project. Staff and contractors were required to work in potentially very unpleasant conditions where they were exposed to a variety of health risks, and some safety risks. The comprehensive approach taken was a copybook example of how to look after people and improve their S productivity at the same time.
John Campbell welcomes lifetime achiever Professor Neil Pearce to the podium. J u ly / A ug u st 2 0 1 0
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Spills: An absorbing topic. JAMES ALDEN NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOUR SYSTEM FOR PREVENTING WORKPLACE SPILLS, YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO BE WITHOUT A WELL THOUGHT-OUT SPILL MANAGEMENT PLAN TO HANDLE ANY SITUATION THAT COULD OCCUR. Having the right equipment to contain and clean up accidental discharges – and staff who know how to use it – can make the difference between an inconvenient incident and a major emergency. A poor spill response not only means more disruption to your workplace, but could also put you at risk of prosecution under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) legislation or Resource Management Act (RMA). These laws provide large financial penalties, and possible imprisonment, for individuals and organisations who discharge hazardous substances without consent. Last year two Warkworth businesses were fined $14,000 each under the RMA, after fuel leaked into a waterway from a jointly owned diesel pump. The fines were small, however, compared to the $250,000 they spent cleaning up the spill.
What does an effective spill response plan involve? As in any hazard management plan the first step is to identify all potential problems. Look at every substance that is stored or used on site and ask yourself: If that spilt would there be a risk of harm to people or the environment? Passive systems such as spill pallets and containment bunds are a good place to start as these will prevent the spill spreading and in some cases will allow recovery and recycling of the spilt product. There are various options available that can be selected to meet your site requirements. These include various size spill control pallets, low-profile accumulation centres or work floors, moveable drum caddies and “drive-over” floor bunding, to safely catch drips, leaks or overflows from drums and containers. Then it is important to have a suitable spill kit to clean up the spill. NZ Safety’s Prosafe range of spill kits provide various options to deal with this situation – absorbent pads, pillows and socks to
contain and soak up liquids, appropriate protective clothing for workers, disposal bags for used sorbents, and instructions to ensure correct use. There are generally three types of spill kits – general purpose, oil only and chemical. It is important to understand how they differ and when to use each type. General purpose kits will absorb nearly all liquids both oil based and water based so is ideal for most applications. However these will not work well when oil is spilt on water as they will absorb both oil and water. Oil only kits will not absorb water based liquids so are most effective when oil based liquids are spilt on water. Prosafe chemical kits are designed for aggressive chemicals such as acids. They use yellow coloured sorbents to designate that they must be handled with care and proper PPE to protect the user as the sorbent material takes on the properties of the absorbed liquid and can be
hazardous to touch. The most important and often most neglected step in a spill response plan is to protect the storm water drains to prevent the spilt substance from entering the storm water system. NZ Safety offer Ultratec Drainseals which are made from rugged reinforced polyurethane that completely cover drain openings, providing a barrier that is impervious to oil, water and most aggressive chemicals. Another innovative solution is the reusable inflatable spill stopper that blocks the outlet in the sump. This option allows the spill to flow into the cess pit but not out which means that it is contained until a sucker truck can be used to clean it up. For further advice on spill protection products and training talk to the experts at NZ Safety. James Alden is the Product Manager for NZ Safety, Phone 09 263 2917 / 027 576 3988 0800NZSAFETY (0800 697 233) Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article has been commissioned by NZ Safety in the interest of improving spill management. For further information about spill protection, visit NZ Safety’s free on-line information library: www.nzsafety.co.nz REPUBLIK★34729
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Speaking of Safety
Metal health KEITH McLEA reports on how ACC is tackling injury in the metal manufacturing industry. A big part of ACC’s injury prevention activity involves working with high-risk industries – those with higher-than-average injury rates. This month, I’d like to talk about the work ACC is doing with the metal manufacturing sector. Around 8,000 employers and 50,000 employees are involved in this sector in New Zealand, so it plays a significant role in our economy. However, it’s also an industry that’s been beset by safety issues in the past. Back in 2005, baseline research completed by Research New Zealand gave us a pretty good window into what these issues are. The research also offered interesting insights into the industry’s demographic make-up, and how this contributes to its safety performance. What we found is that this is an industry comprising mostly small to medium sized businesses, with around 80% of companies employing 20 or fewer employees. Overall, there was a low level of understanding of the importance of a health and safety focus in the workplace. In particular, few employers surveyed in 2005 recognised the need for regular employee involvement in health and safety activities, to reinforce good practices. The industry is also one which has had difficulty recruiting skilled and suitable staff – as a result, many who work in the sector are relatively inexperienced, with low levels of literacy skills quite common. Given this combination of a lack of safety awareness and focus, and a relatively inexperienced workforce, it’s not too surprising that injury rates in the sector were on an upward trajectory. In the four years between 2003 and 2007, for instance, new ACC
claims arising from the sector rose by over 20%. There was also a significant rise in the number of very serious injuries occurring. These increases took place against a backdrop of declining employment levels of 6%, which made the rising injury rate even more alarming. ACC therefore began working closely with sector representatives and the DoL to explore possible solutions. This work has resulted in a range of resources being developed for the industry, to help put safety in the general spotlight, and to improve awareness of specific hazards and health and safety issues. The main resource we developed was a comprehensive set of safety guidelines, tailored specifically for the working conditions typical of the metal industry. This has since become the ‘safety bible’ for the majority of businesses involved in the sector. The guidelines cover the full spectrum of the industry’s activities, from machining and welding to fabrication and metal casting. There’s also instruction on more general tasks, such as safe lifting and how to administer first aid and manage an emergency. Most importantly, the guidelines were compiled by industry experts, and were based on practical experience and hard-earned knowledge from past accidents and incidents. They serve a dual purpose in that they can act as a resource for employers looking to develop their workplace safety procedures and processes. They’re also able to serve as a training tool for new employees. Originally produced in a paper and ring binder format, the guidelines have since crossed over into the digital domain, having recently been released in a USB stick format. The digital version includes
interactive exercises, designed to enhance the staff training application. Incorporating an interactive component also recognises that literacy skills remain an issue for many employees working in the sector, and a text-based format will clearly hold less appeal for these workers. As I write this, ACC programme manager John Skudder is busy organising a series of breakfast seminars around New Zealand, to introduce the interactive guidelines to businesses. ACC is also currently in the process of developing a new training resource for frontline leaders – supervisors and floor managers who work on the actual production line. Frontline leaders play a critical role in shaping the safety culture of their respective workplaces. By giving them tools to extend their safety knowledge, our thinking is that this will then flow through to help lift the safety standards of the workers they oversee. The new, module-based training resource will help supervisors and floor managers identify any gaps in their existing safety knowledge. Each module is based around a key tactic for improving workplace safety, like building a positive workplace culture, assessing risk, managing problems, improving communication and more. Of course, you may be wondering what impact ACC’s work with the metal industry has had over the past few years. Since our involvement with the sector, injury rates have begun to decline and in the past 12 months there has been a 20% reduction in weekly compensation claims. Obviously ACC can’t take all of the credit for this turnaround. However now that there is good basic health and safety information available, and with the introduction
of an excellent training resource for new entrants into the sector, we are optimistic injury rates will continue to decline. So, while it’s early days yet, there are encouraging signs that attitudes and injury rates in the metal industry are taking a turn for the better. And here’s some concrete proof of that. I recently attended the NZ Workplace Health and Safety Awards in Auckland, where I co-presented the Supreme Award – jointly sponsored by ACC and the Department of Labour – to Total Bridge Services. This company has been strengthening the box girder extensions on the Auckland Harbour Bridge – a project which has exposed workers to a range of health hazards, including high temperatures, harmful fumes, loud noise and manual handling of tonnes of steel. These are t ypical ha zards throughout the metal manufacturing industry, yet Total Bridge Services has provided a glowing example of how such risk can be mitigated – in their case, by using portable ventilation and fume extraction systems, changing paint removal methods to minimise lead absorption, and installing electric trains to deliver steel through the girders. Total Bridge Services were deserving winners of the Supreme Award, as they impressed the judges with their comprehensive and detailed approach to protecting the health of 150 workers. It just goes to show that with the right approach, hazards can be successfully managed to reduce the risk accidents and ensure the safety of workers.
Dr Keith McLea is ACC’s general manager injury prevention.
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National Health & Safety Conference 2010
hazard h a d* ch
We would like to thank our sponsors for their generous support in helping to make this event possible. Thank you to all our sponsors for their generous support:
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A dedicated OHS agency? DAVID TREGOWETH, a speaker at the recent Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference, expands on his view that the DoL lacks leadership and that the way forward would be a dedicated OHS agency combining the best of DoL and ACC. I was delighted to have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on leadership at the conference. D u r i n g my p re s e nt ati o n I touched on the nature of leadership and criticised the Department of Labour’s chief executive for in my view not demonstrating it. Speaking to people afterwards, some were clearly offended by my remarks while others were in agreement. I stand by my views and seek here to clarify and expand upon them.
My concern is that this lack of action, passion and leadership flows through into how the department’s workplace safety and health function is enabled to make workplaces healthier and safer. I have long felt that strong regulation is a cornerstone of societal values in health and safety and the ongoing development of our culture. In New Zealand this cornerstone comes in the form of the DoL. My perspective on the department comes from many years as an employee of that organisation, and more recently, from having had the rare opportunity to work there on secondment for 12 months.
I believe in the DoL, the reason for its existence, and the work that its employees are engaged to do. I passionately believe that without the department and its role as a health and safety regulator, New Zealand would be a much poorer and less safe place. That is not to say that I think it is doing the job it is mandated to do, despite the best efforts of many of its frontline staff. The chief executive and senior management team have the responsibility to lead the department, to organise and resource it so that it can adequately fulfil its role and assist New Zealand to reach appropriate levels of health and safety. Further, the chief executive’s responsibility extends beyond the department to provide leadership to the community on this important matter. Sadly, I have seen very little of this from this and other senior roles at the DoL over the years. To illustrate this point, at your awards function, the most senior manager representing the department was a fourth-tier leader. No doubt there were good and sound reasons for the absence of more senior leaders, but nevertheless this most important date on the safety calendar was missed. I wa s h e a r te n e d th at th e Minister of L abour was able to attend. Her support to this cause is just as it should be and her leadership should be noted by her most senior officials. Similarly, I applaud the commitment and leadership of the senior executives from industry who found the time to attend. Why there is this disparity between private and public sector leadership? At the conference I did not criticise the function or intent of the DoL. My comments were
directed at its leadership, or lack of it. My concern is that this lack of action, passion and leadership flows through into how the department’s workplace safety and health function is enabled to make workplaces healthier and safer. My contention is that this inhibits the development of a world-class health and safety regulator. Creating such a regulator would mean significant change – and one I believe is well overdue. Sadly, I no longer think this is possible within the DoL. Like many before me I am now a promoter of a stand-alone agency such as the Health and Safety Executive in the U K or any of the Australian state workplace health and safety agencies. The creation of such an agency in itself creates the right drive and accountability through passionate and dedicated leadership, creation and allocation of the right resources and people, and singularity of focus. This does not sound very much like our current regulator, which has been under-invested in for many years, with its resources depleted.
Thank heavens for the dedication of its cadre of health and safety inspectors and others who maintain the best organisation they can under trying circumstances. Workplace health and safet y deser ves bet ter than this. While a single dedicated agency is not a silver bullet, it would be a good star t. Actually, it would be a break through. Why not take the essential components of the DoL and ACC and create a regulator that can and will make a real difference? Why not staff it with officials and leaders who want to bring about change and are prepared to act courageously to see this happen. It is really just about leadership and courage to act decisively, beyond the politics of the public service. With a Government determined to bring about better and more ef fective public sector agencies, perhaps we now have a Minister of Labour who might take action on this. * The Department of Labour was offered the opportunity to respond to this article, but declined. S
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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION.
From left to right: Angela Healy, SATARA Health and Safety Officer; representing NZ SAFETY, Eric Haslam, Human Resources Manager and Candy Grey, SATARA Human Resources Manager.
Congratulations to Satara Co-operative Group for taking out the NZ Safety ‘Best Initiative to Encourage Engagement in Health and Safety’ at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards 2010. The company, who employs more than 1000 seasonal staff for kiwifruit packing and storage, developed three induction DVDs delivering health and safety messages to their staff - many of whom have limited English. Satara Co-operative Group impressed the judges with their idea to use children from a local primary school to direct, shoot and act out safe and unsafe behaviour in the packing sheds, and deliver other key employment information.
Some of the school children behind the winning DVD.
The resulting DVDs were very engaging and not only successfully delivered safety messages, but via the families involved, also succeeded in driving the safety message into the local community.
0800 NZSAFETY | www.nzsafety.co.nz 4 2 SAFEGUARd MAY /JUNE
Photo supplied by RNZAF.
Dashing safety style A broader and more integrated approach to OHS has lifted the RNZAF to new heights, ANGELA GREGORY reports.
isk-taking personality types are purposefully selected during the recruitment process for the Royal New Zealand Air Force – the challenge then becomes how to moderate that trait with safe behaviour. Johan Bosch, Director of Air Force Safety and Health, acknowledges the irony that from an H&S perspective, the RNZAF is bringing in risk-takers. He adds: “And we expect to put our people in harm’s way.” The trick, says Bosch, is to try and get them to take risks safely. “Mission first; safety always.”
Bosch’s role did not exist three years ago and the new position, held by a commanding officer, has strategically elevated the air force’s H&S, or safety and health as they prefer to call it (recognising that safety is paramount). As a result everything is dashthis and dash-that, given the over-arching and catchy acronym DASH (Directorate of Air Force Safety and Health). For decades the focus was on flying safety, not so much other aspects like the air quality inside planes, or radiation exposures when flying above 45,000 feet. Bosch says the strength of the new safety and
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health regime is how it has now integrated flight safety, occupational safety and health, and environmental health. “There were about half a dozen personnel directly working through the air force on safety and health, but they were disconnected from each other.” Aviation safety is led by a flight safety team working at “quite a high level” and includes two squadron leaders. “They have high credibility, and have been flying instructors.” The squadron leaders are supported by trained Unit Flight Safety Officers (UFSOs) on the seven flying units. As for occupational safety, the numbers of dedicated staff members have doubled from one to two at each base. One is
uniformed (in case they need to be deployed overseas on operations) and the other is a former DoL inspector. “They’re the face of safety on the base.” As well, the RNZAF has four occupational health nurses (one on each base, and one who oversees them) – all recently established positions. Bosch is proud to note they area first for the New Zealand Defence Force. “Three years ago the focus was on occupational safety, but not so much occupational health.” Underlying these roles are the 119 trained Unit Safety and Health Coordinators (USHCs), who are selected (not elected) H&S reps, along with the Nebosh trained safety advisors. Bosch says all the parties are integrated at all levels, to share
Photos by Angela Gregory.
“Safety and health in the air force is like an octopus – it looks reasonably small but its tentacles go everywhere.”
ideas and coordinate efforts, in order to aim for performance rather than compliance. “Our Air Force faces significant and dynamic safety and health challenges every day and everywhere. The integration of specialist and functional roles within DASH, supported by over a hundred USHCs and UFSOs, ensures a sustainable culture of safety.” And as Stephen Cooper, safety manager and hazardous substances advisor, describes it: “Safety and health in the air force is like an octopus – it looks reasonably small but its tentacles go everywhere.” In fact, says Bosch,more than ten percent of RNZAF personnel and civilian staff have specific H&S responsibilities. “That sets us apart from nearly all other organisations.” A few years back the Chief of Air Force allocated resources so the RNZAF could improve its safety and health robustness – the 22 DASH personnel are evidence of that. The air force presents signifi-
cant challenges. For a start, the personnel are young –around 45 percent are aged under 25 years, and 65 percent under 40. There are more than 3000 personnel at various locations around t he countr y and t he world, representing over 30 trades and participating in risky military and flying operations. Bosch’s aim is for all personnel to build up an individual sense of safety, as part of their character, and a collective sense, as part of the RNZAF safety culture. “The whole air force has to take responsibility for safety and health.” Upon recruitment, 16 hours is spent on safety and health training, which is continually built on, with formal training at all levels. “They are trained to do their own risk management … it’s all about being predictive and building safety and health thinking.” Marty Fitchett, safety education manager, says the school leavers get a safety brief before doing anything – whether digging holes or crossing streams.
Tim Hopkins, environmental health officer. 4 4 SAFEGUARd Ju ly/Au g ust
“We ask what the safety implications are, and by default that thinking becomes ingrained.” Those in the air force face all the common hazards – confined space work, slip/trip/fall risks, working at heights, and exposure to hazardous substances. However, aviation brings its own specific hazards, as obviously do military activities. A relatively recent development was the hiring of the occupational health nurses who are looking in more depthat issues around chemical exposure, and the risks faced by paint sprayers, welders, re-fuellers, composite workers, and wood and lead workers. They are also involved in return to work programmes, workplace assessments and fitness, and general health promotion and education. The air force also takes environmental health seriously. With three bases including two airports equipped for international arrivals, and travel ranging from the Antarctic to the tropics, they have to cover all environmental challenges like biosecurity at short notice. Areas of focus include water treatment, field hygiene, cooking, poisonous flora and fauna, and tropical diseases. These non-battle hazards traditionally account for more injuries and illnesses than combat. Tim Hopkins, the environmental health officer, has one of the more varied jobs when out
on an overseas mission. Hopkins might use his entomological skills to capture and study mosquitoes under a microscope to see if they could be transmitters for malaria, and setting up thermal foggers to blow water-based insecticides through the camps. Or it might be the microbiological testing of water quality, the significance of which dates back to the Crimean war about 150 years ago, where contaminated water was a likely source of cholera infection. Aviation safety officer Russell Kennedy also notes the historic origins of air force safety, well before the introduction of specific H&S legislation. Over 50 years ago systems had to be put in place as during WWII more pilots were killed in training than were shot down, he said. “They were being pushed through too quickly.” In the 1980s came a shift in safety thinking beyond air crew to other areas like maintenance, with a broadened emphasis including identifying hazards. The HSE Act then reinforced the need for specialists, Kennedy says, although the intent of New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Act and other related legislation are also taken into account. Kennedy says the air force has subsequently started using industrial psychology, to identify barriers which prevent information from being passed on. It is looking at attitudes, and
make mistakes, looking at things like communication, personality styles, decision making, fatigue and stress management.” S
how they are moulded to better understand the importance of professional standards, and underline why safety training is so important. “We focus on human factors like why people
Congratulations to Pernod Ricard New Zealand
Winner of the OfficeMax Best Initiative to Improve Employee Wellness
The New Zealand Workplace Health & Safety Awards 2010
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NEW ZEALAND BUSINESSES DEMONSTRATING LEADERSHIP IN KEEPING WORK SAFE.
TOTAL BRIDGE SERvIcES Total Bridge Services is this year’s supreme winner. Working with the Department of Labour they identified hazards and developed solutions to a formidable range of health and safety challenges.
THE NEW ZEALAND WORKPLAcE HEALTH & SAFETy AWARDS 2010
The Department of Labour recently launched A Principal’s Guide to Contracting at the Safeguard Conference. If you’d like to find out more about building health and safety into contract management visit our website:
PLA 11258.2 JUL 10
Pay on the rise PETER BATEMAN reports that incomes are still rising, but some common themes are evergreen.
irst, the good news: the median annual income of this year’s 171 salary survey respondents is $3000 up on last year’s figure, and $6000 up on our first survey in 2008. That’s a rise of just under nine percent in two years, which isn’t bad going. Before breaking out the champagne and proclaiming that health and safety is finally being given its due, bear in mind that the survey does not take into account what else people do other than “pure” health and safety work. Many respondents clearly take on tasks outside the OHS realm, such as environmental management, quality control, and sometimes HR issues too. We haven’t got space here to include the many illuminating comments respondents wrote at the end of the survey. (Please visit safeguard.co.nz to read an edited selection.) However several common themes emerged, two of which provided the bulk of the feedback. First, salaries in New Zealand are still clearly much lower than those on offer in Australia or further afield, and seemingly lower than the usual trans-Tasman salary gap. Why is that? Possibly it relates to the
second key theme, which is that many NZ employers still don’t recognise the value that good health and safety can add to an organisation. “Too many practitioners are earning at low levels,” writes one respondent, “which is not encouraging people with technical skills to pursue a career in OHS.” Another theme is that many people in OHS roles are asked to juggle this responsibility with unrelated activities, even in quite large companies, reducing the chances of making a significant impact. Other comments referred to the passion required to be a successful health and safety practitioner, and that some employers took advantage of this by not giving the role the recognition – in salary and seniority – that it warrants. And as always, there were comments b emoa n i ng t he low s a la r ie s pa id to Department of Labour health and safety inspectors. “This encourages people to participate in the training and then look for employment elsewhere in industry,” noted one respondent. Our thanks to everyone who took part in the survey.
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The summary data (N=171) Q: In total, how long have you spent in roles where your main function was health & safety? Less than a year 1.8% Junior 1 – 3 years 18.1% Junior 4 – 6 years 27.5% Intermediate 7 – 9 years 14.6% Intermediate 10 years or more 38.0% Senior
Q: Which category best describes your role? Health & safety practitioner 78.9% Occupational health nurse 2.3% Occupational hygienist 0.0% Ergonomist 1.2% Enforcement (eg DoL inspector) 3.5% Other 14.0%
Q: What is the highest OHS qualification you hold? None 4.1% Low Safety rep course 11.7% Low NZQA unit standard(s) 24.0% Low Short-course diploma 19.3% Medium 1-year diploma 12.9% Medium Bachelor’s degree 12.9% High Higher degree 15.2% High
Q: Does your role include responsibility for environmental management? Yes 50.9% No 49.1%
Q: Which best describes your employment status? Employee (operational responsibilities) Employee (advisor/consultant) Self-employed Q: You are employed in which industry sector? Agriculture/forestry/fishing 2.3% Business services (eg consulting) 5.3% Construction 11.7% Education 4.1% Healthcare 4.1% Hospitality 1.2% Government (local or central) 18.1% Manufacturing 19.9% Mining/oil & gas 4.1% Retail/wholesale 1.8% Transport 9.9% Utilities 7.0% None of the above 10.5%
46.2% 49.7% 4.1%
GOV MFG TRN UTE
Q: What size is your organisation 0 – 5 staff 8.2% 6 – 20 2.3% 21 – 50 4.1% 51 – 100 8.2% 100+ 77.2% Q: What is your annual personal income before tax? Under $40,000 2.9% Low $40,000 – $49,999 4.7% Low $50,000 – $59,999 16.4% Below middle $60,000 – $69,999 19.9% Below middle $70,000 – $79,999 15.2% Above middle $80,000 – $89,999 14.6% Above middle $90,000 – $99,999 5.8% Above middle $100,000 – $119,999 8.2% High $120,000 – $139,999 3.5% High $140,000 + 8.8% High Q: Considering employment prospects, salary and career path, would you recommend a career in OHS? Yes, with enthusiasm 45.0% Yes, but with reservations 51.5% No, all things considered 3.5% Definitely not 0.0%
Organisation size: does it matter?
Industry sectors: is there a difference?
Median salaries for the size groups with at least 10 respondents.
Median salaries for the industry sectors with at least 5% of respondents.
0 – 5 staff 51 – 100 100+
$70,000 $67,500 $76,200
N = 14 N = 14 N = 132
Manufacturing Government Construction Utilities Business services Transport
$65,000 $69,000 $80,000 $82,000 $85,000 $87,500
N = 34 N = 31 N = 20 N = 12 N=9 N = 17
Purchase the salary survey We do not have space to offer a complete analysis of the survey data. However, you can buy a spreadsheet of the complete dataset, stripped of any text responses to completely preserve respondent anonymity, by phoning our customer care team at 0800 10 60 60 or via email at email@example.com 4 8 SAFEGUARd Ju ly/Au g ust
Experience – does it pay?
Qualification level Low Medium N = 68 N= 55 Experience Junior 36.8% 12.7% Intermediate 36.8% 47.3% Senior 26.4% 40.0% % employees 100% 94.5% Sector 1 MFG (23.5%) TRN (18.2%) Sector 2 GOV (19.1%) MFG (16.4%) Sector 3 CON (8.8%) GOV (16.4%) Role HS Practitioner 70.6% 89.1% OH Nurse 1.8% Ergonomist 1.5% Enforcement 5.9% Environment too? 52.9% 54.5% 100+ staff 79.4% 80.0% Median salary $65,670 $77,000 (2009) $58,438 $75,000 (2008) $61,000 $68,437
Junior Intermediate (up to 3 years) (4 – 9 years) N = 34 N=72
Qualifications Low 73.5% 34.7% Medium 20.6% 36.1% High 5.9% 29.2% % employees 100% 95.8% Sector 1 GOV (20.6%) MFG (26.4%) Sector 2 MFG (17.6%) GOV (18.1%) Sector 3 TRN (14.7%) CON (9.7%) Role HS Practitioner 76.5% 80.6% OH Nurse Ergonomist 2.9% 1.4% Enforcement 1.4% Environment too? 41.2% 55.6% 100+ staff 85.3% 77.8% Median salary $58,000 $71,500 (2009) $57,222 $68,636 (2008) $52,045 $69,722
Senior (10+ years N=65 27.7% 33.8% 38.5% 93.8% GOV (16.9%) CON (15.4%) MFG (13.8%) 78.4% 6.2% 4.6% 50.8% 72.3% $86,360 $79,706 $75,909
INTERPRETATION Take for example the “Intermediate” column for respondents with 4 to 9 years experience. There are 72 of them, of whom 34.7% have “low” qualifications (defined as none, safety rep course, or NZQA units). Manufacturing (MFG) is the most popular sector, with Government second and Construction third. In the salary trends, all levels of experience have gone up over the last two years, but the gap between intermediate and senior practitioners has widened, being around $15,000 compared to $11,000 last year.
Salary analysis Salary
High N= 48 4.2% 43.8% 52.0% 91.7% MFG (18.8%) GOV (18.8%) CON (16.7%) 79.2 6.3% 2.1% 2.1% 43.8% 70.8% $86,100 $79,167 $76,786
The “High” column, for example, reflects those with a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification in OHS. So the 43.8% and 52.0% figures reflect – as you’d expect – that the vast majority of highly qualified practitioners are at intermediate or senior levels of experience. Just over half of them work in the manufacturing, government or construction sectors (18.8 + 18.8 + 16.7 percent). Being better qualified is clearly associated with higher income, though that is related also to the experience factor, with higher qualified people generally more experienced.
The median salary of all 171 respondents = $74,230 (2009 $71,333; 2008 $68,214)
(<$50K) ($50-$70K) N = 13 N = 62 Experience Junior 38.5% 33.9% Intermediate 46.1% 46.8% Senior 15.4% 19.3% Qualifications Low 69.2% 51.6% Medium 23.1% 29.0% High 7.7% 19.4% % employees 92.3% 96.8% Sector 1 MFG (23.1%) MFG (29.0%) Sector 2 CON (23.1%) GOV (24.2%) Sector 3 EDU (15.4%) TRN (8.1%) Role HS Practitioner 53.8% 67.2% OH Nurse 7.7% 3.2% Ergonomist 7.7% Enforcement 4.8% Environment too? 61.5% 46.8% 100+ staff 84.6% 67.7%
8.2% 42.6% 49.2%
8.6% 31.4% 60.0%
34.4% 34.4% 31.2% 96.7% GOV (22.9%) MFG (16.4%) TRN (9.8%)
17.1% 37.1% 45.7% 94.3% CON (22.9%) TRN (14.3%) BUS/UTE/MIN
88.5% 1.6% 1.6% 1.6% 49.2% 81.2%
($70-$100K) N = 61
($100K+) N = 35
INTERPRETATION: While the manufacturing and government sectors employ the most OHS people, the highest-paying sectors are construction, transport, utilities, mining, and business services. As expected, the highest earners ($100K+) are the most experienced and the best qualified. However, the qualification level of this top-earning group still isn’t great, with slightly more than half of them not qualified in OHS to bachelor’s degree level.
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On the Radar
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A significant force The freshly launched Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum presents a unique opportunity for the private and state sectors to work together, says CHRIS BLAKE. In mid-July, 94 chief executives and managing directors in New Zealand made a formal pledge to personally lead health and safety in their businesses – we have each signed on to the aspirational vi-
When we speak, our businesses listen. sion of zero harm workplaces. As the CE of NZ Bus, Bruce Emson, said at the Forum launch, as a group of business leaders we have the influence to make a step change in New Zealand’s performance in workp l a c e h e a l t h a n d s a f e t y. The concept is simple – the Forum’s influence lies in its members. When we speak, our businesses listen. When we make the commitment, our businesses and our supply chains know they’ve got our approval to do it right, do it better. The influence also lies in the spread of our businesses through the economy – Air New Zealand, Fonterra, NZ Refining Company, to name just three examples, are all signed on and the 94 businesses who made the commitment in July cover somewhere between 7 and 10 percent of New Zealand’s workforce. That means more than 160,000 workers have a CE or Managing Director who’s said that workplace accidents are preventable and that health and safety is a business priority. This is a unique initiative. The private sector and the state sector are working as a coalition in this important space – the private sector drives the programme at the work face and the state agencies (the Department of Labour and ACC) bring their regulatory and policy set-
ting expertise to the table. Safe and healthy workplaces provide the platform for every worker to do their work safely, and, critically, to contribute to the productivity of the business and New Zealand. As a group, we know that our drive towards zero harm workplaces will have an impact well beyond each of our businesses. My department is a big business too. It is a team with just the same health and safety responsibilities as any private sector business and so I am in the unique position of having a triple role in this critical issue. I lead a department which must demonstrate the very best health and safety practices itself while at the same time acting to facilitate other businesses to do the same. I will continue to champion those roles. Thirdly, it is absolutely part of our core business to provide practical support as a secretariat to initiatives like the Forum. I have given business priority to work in the department that has been developed around harm reduction. The recent review of the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy identified the need for a greater and more
direct commitment from business leaders if we are to achieve a reduction in harm rates. The Forum addresses that need. The Minister of Labour asked for a practical, action-oriented response to other findings, and the department has identified a five-sector action agenda. Sector-specific plans with a three year horizon, developed with direct input from each sector, will be produced for agriculture, construction, forestry, manufacturing and fishing. The construction plan is well advanced in development and agriculture is next on the list. The DoL focus in year one is developing harm reduction programmes focusing on re d u c i n g th e to l l f ro m q u ad bike accidents in agriculture, and on falls from heights. Internally, we have the CE’s Health and Wellbeing Awards as an important focus on health and safety in the department, and I am driving a focus on health and safety down through my executive team to all of the DoL’s sites. We all know the statistics: up to 100 workplace fatalities and about 6,000 serious injuries each
year costing the country $16 billion. But the statistics hide the awful personal reality – what they really mean is that up to 100 workers don’t return home to their friends and families after work; thousands of other friends and families have to watch a worker struggle to recover from an accident. There is a wide variety of programmes led by the government, sectors, individual business, even individual managers which are working and reducing the impact of workplace accidents. They won’t stop and their impact will not be reduced by the Forum’s activities. In fact the value of those programmes will be enhanced by the active commitment from the leadership of 94, and soon to be more, businesses throughout the country. We are simply bringing the power of the CEO to the table, focusing it and building on the good that is already in play.
Christopher Blake is the chief executive, Department of Labour.
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Can New Zealand stand the cost? Employers must set standards of behaviour for their employees before risky activity becomes the norm, says ROSEMARY JOHNSON. A friend had recommended that I watch a clip on YouTube. She had found it funny, my thoughts differed. I watched a reach truck come into the frame driven by an order picker in the clear space of a large warehouse with another fork lift operating in the background. The truck started to go round in circles at ever increasing speed. Eventually the centrifugal force threw the picker off the truck and out of the picture. It is hard to know the whole story behind the incident but it does raise a few questions, many
of which you have probably heard before. However they recur at unacceptable intervals. It is an ongoing story that is adversely affecting individuals, industry, and the wealth of the biggest industry of all, our country, NZ Ltd. I wondered how often his fellow employees, supervisor, even the management had seen similar driving, yet kept silent. One comment on the site said “He should be fired on the spot – bloody idiot”. Who trained him, I wonder? Did his supervisor allow him to continue behaving like this? He was on video, therefore someone
must have witnessed the event, maybe even encouraged him to do it. From the speed and dexterity of his driving, it is evident that this was not the first time he had done it. Silence may be the easier route but speaks volumes about a company’s safety culture. Frequently the investigation highlights skylarking as the cause of the incident and ignores the real issue: the role of the employer. Under s6 of the HSE Act, it is for the employer to take the practical steps to control the hazard and thus set the expected standards of behaviour. If employees are allowed to
continue with bad safety practices they become the accepted norm and continue until even a fatality occurs. Other comments on similar accidents noted that some line managers are pushing employees to work faster and cut corners, often ignoring the potential safety and associated financial implications. What injuries the man received is hard to tell from the information available. Hopefully they were not serious. However, even if they were mild, there is the cost to the business from the lost time while he received first aid, lost production
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Silence may be the easier route but speaks volumes about a company’s safety culture. from his colleagues as they give him assistance and recover from the shock of seeing a work mate injured – or just laughing at him. The late picking of orders and their late delivery could lose the customer’s goodwill, often resulting in lost future orders. All this adds up to lost dollars off the bottom line, valuable dollars that few businesses can afford to lose. It is a story that is being quietly and consistently repeated by John Key and others in the government. If the injuries were serious there might have been a claim on ACC. The issues that ACC is having with claims exceeding the available finances are well documented elsewhere, but they are having a significant impact on injured employees. It has been noted that ACC are changing the criteria by which claims are paid. For example, claims for musculoskeletal issues are only paid if a significant incident has occurred; even though many issues such as tenosynovitis and carpel tunnel syndrome develop gradually, not from a specific incident. In doing so the statistics for musculoskeletal disorders are massaged, appearing to decline even though, due to the impact of technology and the nature of work, they are static and, if they follow the international trends, will increase. No doubt if the injuries were serious requiring reporting to the DoL, the company has the resulting expense. Not only will time be spent on the investigation internally, but if the DoL investigates valuable time will be diverted away from running the business. But many companies do not evaluate the cost of preventing accidents when counting the cost of health and safety. You’re probably reading this and thinking “I’ve heard this all before”. Yet incidents similar to the one described at the start of this article happen every day. It is having a significant cost on business and its profitability and that
of the country. So what’s to be done about it? The DoL has been involved in talks with the CEOs of the biggest employers and they are all agreeing on the need to take the necessary steps. It is not just the big employers but everyone who needs to make sure they are more proactive. The issues raised can be summarised as follows: • The cost to the business of poor management is significant both above and below the cost line. • If costs are to be controlled, proactive and good management at every level of the company is essential. • The costs incurred due to the inef fective management of health and safety have been recognised at all levels. • Massaging figures will not hide the issues. If you have watched the video you will have seen the actions for yourself. As a country can we afford to ignore the implications? Words will not stop further injuries (and occupational related illness). If we don’t take action the blame will remain at the employee’s door, when it is clear that health and safety is a shared responsibility. The NZISM-NZOHNA combined conference is being held in New Plymouth September 1st to 3rd. Registrations are open, please go to www.auaha. co.nz/nzohna-nzism2010. The 3M Awards for Health and Safety aim to promote excellence in health and safety, recognising the commitment, innovation and challenge of improving health and safety for the New Zealand workforce. The awards are presented at the conference and you can enter. For information go to www. nzism.co.nz
Rosemary Johnson is a director of Safe Advice and a committee member of the Auckland branch of NZISM.
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Rich Brown FLIGHT SERGEaNT
Life in the health and safety sector What is your background?
I served for 24 years as an aircraft technician in the Royal Air Force. I served on three operational squadrons and deployed on operations in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq. In 2006 the RAF was drawing down in size and I took voluntary redundancy. The RNZAF was actively recruiting from personnel leaving the RAF and I applied. After about six months the RNZAF told me I had been accepted so in October 2006 my family and I moved to New Zealand.
Describe your current employment.
I am currently employed by the Directorate of Air Force Safety and Health as a Safety Advisor at R NZA F Ba s e Auc k la nd. We a re respon sible for t he implementation and day to day functioning of the occupational safet y component of t he RNZAF Safety Management System (SMS) on the base, with t he purpose of maximising operational effectiveness and ensuring legislative compliance. We are also responsible for providing advice and guidance to base personnel as well as liaising w it h i nter na l a nd exter na l agencies such as contractors employed on base, the DoL and ACC. Other responsibilities include arranging, coordinating and conducting safety training, conduc t i ng occ upat iona l safety audits, assisting in the identification and management of work plac e h a z a rd s a nd carrying out assessments.
Why did you become involved in health and safety?
The reasoning behind safety and health has always made perfect sense to me. The military is a high risk occupation and the people we employ are by definition risk takers. These risks need to be assessed and controlled
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and we need to ensure they are appropriate to the task, taken in the right place at the right time for the right reason. My experience on operations is that all resources are already stretched. The last thing you need is to lose people, or any other asset, to entirely avoidable accidents.
What training have you had?
The RAF ran a number of courses backed by IOSH: Managing Safely, Risk Assessor and Manual Handling Instructor. As part of my resettlement package when I left I gained my NEBOSH Certificate. I also had training as an instructor and a training designer in the RAF, which has helped a great deal. Since I have been here I have been on various promotion courses and also trained as a noise assessor within the RNZAF.
What has been your most satisfying achievement so far?
I was part of a DASH project that devised a robust system for the management of contractors across all RNZAF bases. We put a lot of work into it: drafting an RNZAF policy, devising a three tier assessment system that would suit the vast range of contractors we deal with, designing information leaflets and writing a script for a short film to reinforce our briefings. The work has really paid off. It has allowed us to cultivate a far better relationship with the contractors and removed a lot of the old misunderstandings that took place.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do?
There have been a nu mber of diff ic ult ies to overcome; convincing specialists from a ny of t he t h i r t y d i f ferent trades within the RNZAF that safety and health can improve their work outcomes as well as
designing the safety and health solutions, in conjunction with personnel, that achieve our mission, without compromising day to day health and safety. There are over 1200 personnel at Base Auckland and they very often have conflicting demands that and they also need to be reminded that safety and health still applies on deployments and operations around the world, not just here on base!
What has surprised you about the role?
It still surprises me how much of a buzz I get from helping people out or c ha ng i ng someone’s opinion on safety and health.
How has the role changed you?
I have learnt so much in such a short time and I think my people skills have improved. Dealing with service personnel within a formal rank structure is often far easier, and my interactions on a daily basis with civilian contractors has meant I have had to learn a whole new skill set.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of entering the OHS field? Grow a thick skin!
What is the most risky thing you’ve done?
Besides moving to New Zealand it would have to be going for runs off base in Bosnia. There were pre-determined routes. O ne of t he g roup got i nto difficulties. Someone suggested a short cut that involved crossing a bridge. It seemed like a good idea until we got to the river and the bridge was gone. The whole area was littered with waste and amongst it I spotted abandoned munitions. My mind went back to one of the briefs we were given prior to the deployment, that there were more mines in Bosnia than any other country in the world. Back-tracking carefully, we got back on route and made it to base. The specialists went out and made the area safe. What we had seen turned out to be harmless but we had taken a huge risk all the same.
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Front line not a battlefield Empathising with angry customers can benefit staff well-being, says JOHN FAISANDIER. “You @#%& idiot, you have left the most important thing out of the order!!” “Why doesn’t anyone answer the phone when I ring!!” “Go and get someone who knows what they are talking about.” “Are you people stupid??” “I’m a tax payer so I pay your wages…” Frontline staff can face these comments in private businesses, local bodies and government departments. They are usually delivered from a wave of emotion and negativity, and they typically include unpublishable expletives and cutting personal innuendo. They hurt. Even when staff say they are hardened to it and don’t care, they still hurt. It doesn’t matter whether these “difficult customers” are constant or intermittent, the damage to staff over time can be great. The loss of staff morale and confidence, increased sick leave, staff churn and a resulting downward spiral of poor customer service and even loss of customers and reputation can all take their toll. Management time gets taken up with fighting fires, and there will be significant staffing and financial costs to the business. So, how can your staff engage with angry or upset customers, and still maintain their own health and wellbeing? Tr a i n i n g t h a t b u i l d s s t a f f resilience, as well as the ability to empathise with the customer’s ex pe r ie nc e, c a n e nsure that staff respond appropriately to challenging customers. Generating the confidence in staff to provide a positive service, and the skills to handle customers at their point of need will give businesses their best advantage – in the current environment where people are more freely expressing their anger and frustration. But, even with the best training in the world abrasive customers
can still upset frontline staff. It is a normal response if they are criticised, attacked, or demeaned. Emotional debrief ing is an effective way to help staff regain their equilibrium if they are feeling vulnerable or upset after dealing with difficult customers. Debriefing is telling your story to someone else so that you can make sense of what happened in an upsetting incident. It is an oppor tunity to recognise and acknowledge how you feel so that you can accept yourself and move on in life, without taking unnecessary baggage into the next thing you do. When you debrief, you talk about all aspects of the
incident: the who, what, when, and where; and about your feelings, then and now. A large majority of unpleasant incidents with angr y or upset customers can be dealt with in ways as suggested below. However, there are times when the number of incidents become wearying, or the level of abuse is such that something else is needed. It is not a failing to seek the help of experts when the going gets really tough. If this is happening in your workplace, seek assistance from the HR team, or your employee assistance programme. They are there to help.
In the meantime here are eight things you can do to help a workmate or friend to debrief after any unpleasant incident. This process can be accomplished in very little time, and when it is done well, it can be most effective in assisting people to regain their composure and focus.
John Faisandier runs a training company to assist staff and managers to deal with angry and upset people in the workplace, see www.tuf.co.nz
A guide for the facilitator of Emotional Debriefing What do you need to do before you start?
Personal skills needed?
1. Give yourself the time (and place if possible) so that this is the only thing you are going to do.
2. Be prepared, as a listener, to show empathy, i.e. ‘feel with’ the person, remembering the feelings are theirs, not yours.
3. Be willing to enter the other person’s world without making any judgement or criticism of them.
4. Do not try to rescue. Believe that this person has the ability to ‘fix’ themselves by talking it through, by acknowledging and owning their feelings, and by coming to some understanding of what happened to them.
What do you need to do or say to facilitate the debriefing?
Personal skills needed?
5. Ask your friend to tell you as many details about the incident, as they want to. Not every little detail, but what matters to them.
Genuine concern and interest.
6. Leave your story out of it for now. Mirror their feelings, e.g. ‘You found that really frustrating,’ or ‘You felt really sad’ etc.
7. When they get stuck, gently ask them, ‘And then what happened?’ Help them move through the whole story, including their survival. Reassure them they are not crazy and recognise they are upset.
8. Congratulate them for having done the best they could under difficult circumstances, and for surviving.
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ESI safety climate pilot project
Participants at the culture leaders’ workshop.
Management and safety leaders from eleven power companies attended a safety culture leaders’ workshop held earlier this year in Wellington. This kick-started the Electricity Engineers Association (EEA)-led Electricity Supply Industry safety climate pilot project, to help the industry improve safety leadership and workplace safety culture within their organisations and across the industry. EEA president Bob Simpson said it was rewarding to see strong support from the industry for the strategy implementation which
aims to lift safety performance through vision, direction and coordinated action. The project aims to develop and maintain a strong leadership and workplace safety culture among participant organisations, benchmark supporting practices and develop forward-looking safety indicators. Industry safety initiatives will be evaluated for ongoing improvements. Peter Berry, EEA executive director, said the pilot was unique, being a collective effort by many participants under an association umbrella. The strategy recognised the indispensable role of leadership and culture in making safety systems work consistently well, he said. The pilot comprises: • three-day training for internal process leaders. • two surveys with selected line mechanic and workshop or service support employee work groups across the 11 pilot participant organisations. • joint management-employee improvement processes. • evaluating the pilot methodology for broader application in support of strategic and member objectives for safety leadership and culture. The pilot allows participant organisations to start with a small project rather than immediately implementing organisation-wide. Each participating organisation will involve one process leader and between 25 and 50 employees or numbers as otherwise agreed.
Q: Our safety committee is deciding whether to buy mobile defibrillators for each of our offices. Some of us are reluctant. How do other people feel about having these units in the workplace? Q: It’s getting to the point where lost-time injuries are debated so much we feel we need to have a strong (but encompassing) LTI definition. Q: Our spray division has asked me where on the SDS would I find the contact and non-contact entry periods for chemicals such as Hi-Cane and Movento. I could only find cane contact periods for Hi-Cane on the SDS, not the time frame in which it is safe to re-enter the orchard for non-contact.
The Forum Our selection of questions to the online Safeguard Forum. Plus a feature question kindly answered by Paul Jarvie, health and safety manager with EMA (Northern). Browse the answers and/or join the forum at www.safeguard.co.nz
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Q: Does anyone know if employee health exit testing is being carried out by companies in the ACC WSMP programme at secondary or tertiary level? I would particularly like to hear about those not carrying out exit testing. My impression is that exit testing is not commonly done and if it is being done it is generally only the larger companies. Q: Has anyone heard that the lifespan of hard hats depends on their colour? That the nonwhite ones must be replaced after one year but that the white ones last three years?
Feature question: We lease land to Company A. The lease gives it exclusive occupation of the property, including all statutory obligations. Company A asks us for some work to be done. We arrange a contractor to carry out the work. We have already vetted the contractor and are satisfied they meet all our OHS requirements. However company A is not happy with the contractor’s safety practices and tells the contractor that while on their site they must meet company A’s safety requirements. Contractor says no because they are working for us not company A. Who has what responsibility here? A: The “we” in the scenario would be considered the principal in this case, as the contractor’s invoice would be going to them as they have engaged the contractor. Company A also has some obligations as the person with control over a place of work. The correct way of addressing the contractor’s issues would be for company A to halt the work and communicate their concerns to the principal. Hopefully a joint response from “we” and company A would ensue.
Safeguard conference The 265 delegates at this year’s Safeguard conference heard from a variety of speakers, with subjects ranging from unconventional approaches to OHS, to how New Zealand stacks up against other nations. Dr Richard Fulwiler, the interSpeaker Dr Derek Roger with national keynote speaker, Ian Tarpey, a conference delegate. talked about f unct ional leadership and the importance of good communication. Dr Geraint Emrys outlined the year ahead for the DoL, in which a more targeted approach to harm reduction should be seen. Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson talked about the action agenda which would emphasise a pragmatic approach to OHS. Other speakers included Peter Conway of the NZCTU who discussed issues around ‘precarious workers’, and Ken Rivers, the CEO of the NZ Refining Company who gave an impassioned presentation on his personal views of the importance of safety.
Topical questions • Will ACC experience rating reduce work injuries? • Will it lead to suppression of work injury claims? • Now that it’s illegal, do you use your mobile phone while driving? • Are you a member of any OHS-related professional body? These and other topical questions await your brief response in this issue’s reader competition on the Safeguard website. Naturally there will be prizes for randomly drawn participants, so visit www.safeguard.co.nz before the competition closes on September 13.
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MonkeyBusiness Business Monkey In which our anonymous columnist makes observations which may or may not pertain to the state of health and safety in New Zealand.
A load of old rubbish The notion of safety culture is much discussed these days. An undoubtedly fascinating subject, it fully deserves sober and serious treatment. But, hey, let’s talk about rugby instead. Two mighty wins over the Boks. Fantastic! Bring on the World Cup! But first, a question. One thing about the prime minister’s party central idea that I’ve never quite got my head around is this: why would you encourage thousands of highly lubricated rugby fans to assemble on a long wharf surrounded on three sides by unfenced drops into the sea? Unless of course it’s a conspiracy by soccer enthusiasts to even up the numbers a bit. To illustrate the danger we need only recall the story on the foreign pages a few weeks ago which said that during the recent heatwave in Russia, in the course of only two days, around 200 people had drowned as they tried to cool off by jumping into lakes and rivers. Apparently most of them were drunk on vodka and were incapable of getting themselves out of trouble. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so tragic. As an aside – actually this whole column is an aside, but bear with me – I have to admit that a visit to
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Russia is near the bottom of my list of idle travel daydreams, simply because I wouldn’t last 10 minutes before being ostracised for failing in my duties as a man. I just can’t hold that much liquor. Worse – a mortal sin, this – I wouldn’t even want to try. I’ve never been to Russia, or Poland, or Finland, or any of those countries where drinking significant quantities of hard liquor on a regular basis is woven deeply into the culture. However it is easy to imagine how offensive it would be to any host’s sense of hospitality to decline an offer of vodka. Any feeble excuse – a weak liver, an obscure allergy to fermented potatoes, a perverse preference for beverages that actually taste of something – would be received with a sneer, inevitably followed by exile to Siberia. It would be a miserable visit. I just wouldn’t fit the culture. Speaking of which, and trying to get back on topic, one of the oft-repeated mantras in the world of safety culture is that any workplace behaviour you are prepared to walk past is behaviour you are prepared to tolerate. This notion must have been percolating away in my head for some time, for in recent months I have become my
street’s self-appointed rubbish obsessive. I just can’t walk past it. I may need help. My street runs off a road which has some claim to be one of Auckland’s genuine party centrals. There are three more or less fashionable bars within 200 metres of my front door, the kind frequented by the beautiful people (before you ask, no, I don’t measure up.) Late at night their patrons come stumbling happily down the side streets. They kindly leave bottles in the gutter, on the footpath, on little ledges, anywhere except in the council’s bins. I used to walk past the bottles. I used to think someone else would pick them up. But then I got thinking about that mantra and started picking them up myself. Now I pick them up half-a-dozen at a time. It must be quite an alarming sight for early-morning walkers to encounter a wild-eyed lunatic clutching three RTD bottles and a couple of Tiger beers, all empty.
Now, just last week, the stakes have been raised. My side of our little side street has become a dumping ground. It began with some over flowing bins, a few broken bottles, and a couple of large pieces of cardboard. Every day since, people have added to the pile – large bags of household refuse, lengths of polystyrene packaging, more cardboard, dozens more bottles. This is too much. I’ve contacted the council. I’ve asked for the great steaming pile of rubbish to be removed, and for unnumbered bins to be confiscated. Nothing has happened, so I’ve contacted the council again. I fear it is getting out of control – my obsession, that is. Where will it all end? An Orwellian nightmare of rubbish vigilantes patrolling the streets, armed with empty vodka bottles, determined to stamp out all offenders? But never mind. It’s all part of my culture. Cheers! I’m starting to feel better already.
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