Interested in Health & Safety matters? Don’t care? Don’t know?
Well, if you’re in NZ, you may know New Zealand underwent its most significant workplace health and safety reform following the report from the Independent Taskforce in 2013. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and the WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe) were formed. With a lot of organisations talking Health & Safety and trying to understand concepts and meeting regulations, I found myself trying to understand them too. SO, I asked an acquaintance (he goes by “Brother K”) who chairs the Health & Safety Committee at his workplace, and he shared the blog he wrote for his Committee below.
Health, Safety and Environment – Cost it, Communicate it and Monitor/Control it
About 6 years ago, a friend of mine who was a supervisor in one of the Telco Vendors was very sceptical about the need for HSE practice. He saw it as a waste of time and resources and he also believed that this was just a loophole for lazy workers to exploit if they did not want to do some nasty chores. He sought to plug this by providing his workforce with minimal Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to meet the customer’s requirements, thereby maximising his company’s profits. A lot of the workers who had been with the company for a while supported him and called all the newbies LGs short for “Little Girls”. The only form related to HSE was a tick-box kind, which the veteran job leaders ticked off as a matter of routine and did not discuss the contents with anyone. The form was a client requirement. As fate would have it, one of the LGs thought he was being proactive by bench testing an electric fan. Someone else turned the power on and the fan made a deep cut in the LG’s hand. Fortunately, the doctors managed to put everything back together and the victim was as good as new after two years of surgery and therapy. My friend escaped all this by blaming the job leader who had ticked all the boxes as usual and signed the form.
However, since my friend was well regarded in this company and considered a very valuable asset, the company wisely sent him off to a series of HSE leadership courses. During these courses, he went through a lot of illustrated true happenings of accidents and incidences and they went to visit industrial accident victims in hospital who narrated what happened to them. Sad stories I shall save for another day.
I asked my friend how best to get a buy in from all stakeholders. The first thing, he said was to include the cost of implementing and administering HSE activities as part of your business. Pass on the costs to the customer when the activities are done in the course of delivering the customer’s required outcome. Communicate these costs, activities and expectations to your customer and the workers involved. Monitor and control by running random audits to ensure that HSE practice is being followed. Get feedback on ways to improve and integrate the solutions.
In short, Cost it, Communicate it and Monitor/Control it. If you are already doing all this, Bravo! If there is any part you are not doing, please start now! That was my friend’s advice.