Last Wednesday saw us head north to Auckland, to attend the 2017 Safeguard Health & Safety Awards, where Upper Hutt Hire was a finalist in the small business category.
Now, in case you haven’t noticed, the Health and Safety landscape is changing in New Zealand. Historically New Zealand has had a poor H&S culture and subsequently a shocking track record of work-place injury and fatalities . The new Health and Safety at Work legislation has been in place for 14 months now, and certainly has had some effect. Many might argue the threat of up to $ 3 Million in fines and/or 5 years jail certainly got a lot of people’s attention, and probably provided motivation more about ‘stick’ than ‘carrot’.
As we wandered into the Black Tie presentation of Health and Safety awards I don’t think any of us expected it to be an enthralling event. We were pleasantly surprised.
Over the course of the evening many of the category winners gave heart-felt acceptance speeches. They addressed the impact that accidents and health issues can have on team members and how they had overcome hurdles and mitigated risk. Perhaps one of the best acceptance speech was that given by Ray Smith, from the Department of Corrections, who talked about the absolute necessity to have Health and Safety flowing through all the veins of the organisation. No one could ever envy his job and huge responsibilities.
And then there were awards for simple but effective innovations. Kiwirail picked up an award for a welding project that has significantly injuries caused gas-cutting and welding. Waratah NZ came up with a way to reduce the chance of someone getting hit by a flying chain on a logging site. Meat Company ANZCO food picked up an award for a better designed meat boning room. None of these achievements sounded remotely sexy and they would have little chance of making front page news. But they can all make a monumental difference, especially if you are the one at risk.
Congratulations to King Country Energy, winner of the small business category,, who were recognised for their astute H&S plan for their meter reading staff working in remote locations. And Congratulations to the Canterbury Rebuild Safety Charter, set up after the 2011 Canterbury Earthquake, who won best contribution to improving H&S in New Zealand and the Grand overall award.
So we left the Skycity Ballroom, without an award, but in awe of some of the smart stuff being done by others. The new legislation introduced 14 months ago demanded a lot of compliance paperwork. We get the impression that many companies are now starting to think about Health & Safety much much smarter, while shedding much of the bureaucracy, and that’s got to be good for everyone.