Safety in­spec­tions – first round

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - CONTENTS - By Craig Car­lyle

WorkSafe NZ must be cred­ited with step­ping up to the plate with its new (and still de­vel­op­ing) web­site and in­spec­tion regime.

The first round of ‘pi­lot’ in­spec­tions across Auck­land, New Ply­mouth and Tau­ranga have been com­pleted and the re­sults pub­lished. From 62 in­spec­tions, WorkSafe NZ is­sued 90 im­prove­ment no­tices, 19 pro­hi­bi­tion no­tices and five writ­ten warn­ings.

Metal man­u­fac­tur­ing made up 37 per cent of the vis­its and 45 per cent of the no­tices. Yet food and bev­er­age, and wood­work­ing sec­tors were cut from a rel­a­tively sim­i­lar cloth. While MESNZ ad­vo­cates more car­rot and less stick, it must be said that th­ese re­sults in­di­cate an en­demic level of com­pla­cency or lack of knowl­edge.

Worksafe NZ re­ported an ini­tial hur­dle of “brand”, busi­nesses con­fused about who Worksafe NZ is. The prob­lem cuts deeper than this though; MESNZ has col­lated re­ports from a num­ber of sources of at least one pri­vate health and safety company play­ing on its brand name to fur­ther con­fuse business own­ers and get a foot in the door.

Business own­ers be warned, WorkSafe NZ is the only brand that of­fi­cially rep­re­sents health and safety for the gov­ern­ment.

Mean­while the in­spec­tion re­sults are clear; ma­chine guard­ing in the metal sec­tor is the most common haz­ard, fol­lowed by “other haz­ards” and then noise. In­spec­tors found a mix of good and bad sites, but gen­er­ally found larger com­pa­nies more aware of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

In­spec­tors re­ported busi­nesses are “thirsty for knowl­edge” and don’t have an is­sue with mak­ing im­prove­ments.

MESNZ be­lieves the gov­ern­ment has made a good fist of its ef­forts in the best man­ner that you could ex­pect from bu­reau­cracy.

Where there is a prob­lem, is the gap be­tween Worksafe NZ and business, a vac­uum filled by ‘health and safety con­sul­tants’. While the gov­ern­ment has put the so­lu­tions into the pub­lic do­main, mak­ing sense of it is still daunt­ing and con­fus­ing to the unini­ti­ated.

Such busi­nesses need con­fi­dence and simplicity if they are to embed health and safety man­age­ment into their other business man­age­ment. The chal­lenge is for the health and safety con­sult­ing group is to step up and change its de­liv­ery.

One thing for sure, the scare­mon­ger­ing and over­com­pli­cated ap­proach em­ployed in the pre­vi­ous 20 years failed every­body – ex­cept the con­sul­tants.

Safe sys­tems of work al­low the business to guard for the ob­vi­ous and pre­dictable, but come up with a safe and re­peat­able process for the ex­treme sit­u­a­tions or the manma­chine in­ter­face.

What they then need to be­come ex­pert in is their safety pro­cesses, no dif­fer­ent to man­u­fac­tur­ing sites cop­ing with hot work per­mits, lock out pro­ce­dures, etc.

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