We’ve all seen those bizarre online images of dangerous workplace practices and health and safety issues in overseas countries – not always third world countries either. Things like grossly overloaded buses or trucks, or spaghetti-like electricity cables dangling off the sides of buildings.
While we laugh and think that sort of thing could never happen here, I’m firmly of the belief that despite the proliferation of high-vis safety clothing over recent years, covering every work activity you can think of, and the raft of new H& S legislation, New Zealand still has problems, particularly it would seem in the home construction and renovation industry.
I’ve been made aware of this through various conversations I’ve had with tradies over recent times as we’ve endeavoured to renovate our Auckland home.
I won’t point the finger – suffice to say there are serious shortcuts and compromises still being made within the industry. Some of the stories I’ve heard would make your hair curl! Have we learnt nothing from the dreadful and drawn-out leaky-building saga? Thankfully there are still some excellent and highly skilled tradesmen operating out there (Murray, our kitchen installer, being one of them). But the flood of work that’s available and the pressures to increase Auckland’s housing supply, plus keep up with home-owners’ desire to upgrade into the 21st century, has created an environment where so-called ‘cowboys’, and less-professional operators are still allowed to thrive.
And with industry demand not about to ease back any time soon, there’ll be more entering the market.
I don’t know what the answer is. But standards are slipping and something needs to be done.
One thing I’m curious to know. If you’re an employer, do you really go out of your way to understand first-hand what your employees go through to complete their duties? Do you sit down with them to listen to their concerns and get their feedback? What health and safety issues are there that have the potential to create dissent?
I hope you do. A good employer would want to know if something is not right. And a bit more empathy often goes a long way.
Enjoy the mag!