Warn­ing signs

NZ Business - - NEWS - Glenn H Baker ed­i­[email protected]­ness.co.nz

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!

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