26 Feb Getting Emotional about Health and Safety
Health and safety is not a topic that you would usually get emotional about, but one gets to a point when enough is enough.
A couple of years ago a friend gave me the book “Tragedy at Pike River Mine: How and Why 29 Men Died” by Rebecca Macfie.
He said to me “You are going to get very angry or you are going to cry”.
I don’t mind admitting. I did both. When I got to the centre of the book which showed the photos of the 29, that was the breaking point. Am I a big softy? No, just a husband, a father, and a grandfather with emotion like all of you.
This book is a must for all those of you working in the area of health and safety, as a lesson of bad management, bullying in the workplace, and bad workplace practice.
Last week, I read about this court case. I don’t mind admitting it – again, I got emotional, I felt sick to my stomach, I had tears in my eyes, and then I got angry. I then thought, it’s been 26 years since health and safety became a legal requirement of business, and this kind of travesty is still happening in large and small businesses across New Zealand on a weekly basis.
Have we not learnt anything in those 26 years?
“Daddy, why do you have a funny hand?” “Daddy, why does your hand never get warm?” “Daddy, why does your hand feel like my Lego?”
Are these the type of questions that Jonathan Andersen is going to face and must explain to his son about his prosthetic hand in the future?
Could this be your son, your nephew, your grandson, or anyone else close to you?
In this case, the company directors and management of the company concerned believed that its health and safety practices were adequately managed and under control. This was not so, and as a result, experienced two serious accidents in a short space of time. They have now taken positive and proactive steps to manage their H&S more effectively.
The point of this article is not to cast blame, but to appeal to all readers that we can no longer be complacent and assume that all is well when it comes to health and safety in the workplace.
Enough is enough and I appeal to you all to become vocal ambassadors of change in the workplace, and not to accept complacency/2nd best/”she’ll be right”/lack of action – these excuses must never be an option.
As a nation, we must act. Our health and safety record (even after 26 years) is only improving at a snail’s pace. As a reminder, the 2013 Commission of Enquiry into health and safety in NZ found that we are six times worse than Great Britain and twice as bad as Australia – yet, we only have 22% of the population of Australia – why?
As a nation, we have to wake up, face reality, and take a greater responsibility for H&S. Otherwise, it could be you, your partner, your child or grandchild, workmate, or employee that becomes the next victim.
So where to start?
This is not a complete checklist, but thiswill provide you with a starting point:
- Make sure that all the company directors and the management team are aware and trained in their responsibilities for H&S;
- Ensure that a budget is established for H&S;
- Seek and hire a qualified professional, experienced, and/or competent H&S advisers;
- Train your staff in their responsibilities for H&S, and what and where they can report hazards, accidents and workplace improvement idea;
- Involve them in health and safety management – you are now required to by law);
- Conduct a complete review of all the workplace processes, machinery and equipment to identify and record any hazards and risks;
- Evaluate all hazards for the level of risk and implement the most practicable controls;
- Check and test all guarding as per the manufacturer’s manuals and the approved business and codes of practices;
- Install emergency stop buttons that are within easy reach of the machine operator;
- Develop safe operating procedures for all machinery and equipment;
- Train your staff to a required level of competency and record this training;
- Carry out regular inspections to test that all guarding, and emergency procedures are operational, and record this action;
- Implement a planned maintenance program of all equipment. Don’t take the attitude of “If its ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – this could be a cost to the bottom line;
- Review the company’s incident and accident register on a monthly basis and use this to plan to improve the businesses health and safety record;
- Learn from mistakes and don’t cast blame;
- Go back to number 1.
Please feel free to pass this article on 🙂
If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact Hasmate today.