The Charter AGM on June 29 heralded the beginning of a new year, the year in which we should be able to start moving on from the Covid-19 Pandemic. But this will require some tough decisions to be made.
New Zealand has successfully taken an elimination approach to the Covid risk, which has allowed us to enjoy a relatively normal life. But other countries have struggled to contain community outbreaks and their citizens are now tired of endless lockdowns and are demanding a return to normal life even if that means they could catch Covid and die.
Democratic governments can’t ignore the will of their people and so countries like the UK are settling for a manage and minimize approach to the Covid risk – vaccinate as many people as they can and hope the public health system can cope with remaining infections. But this means that the Covid-19 virus is going to be out there for some time to come.
New Zealand cannot keep our tight border controls in place forever. At some point we will want to rejoin the global community. We need the income from our tourist industry and many of our citizens and residents need and want to be free to travel without having to spend an expensive 2 weeks in MIQ on their return. Some tough decisions indeed.
Many of you are faced with similarly tough decisions when it comes to health and safety in your workplace. It’s never black and white when it comes to risk management. It’s a judgement call how serious the risk is and then another judgement call whether you go all out to eliminate the risk or just try to minimize and manage it.
But when you and your workforces have different opinions, it becomes near impossible to achieve your health and safety objectives, which is why worker engagement is so important. The ‘team of 5 million’ was critical to New Zealand eliminating Covid. Having all your people on board and helping you with your health and safety plan is equally important.
Your workplace culture is key. Those who braved the frigid conditions to attend the AGM heard some great words of wisdom from Dr. David Williams on how to progressively develop a culture that not only enables great health and safety outcomes but also drives great productivity and quality as well.
Two takeaways for me from David’s presentation were, firstly, that changing culture is never a linear, always moving forward, process. It always involves some setbacks, taking two steps forward but then one step back, and so it is a process that requires determination and perseverance. Secondly, the last of the five stages of cultural development requires business owners and managers to take a backseat and trust the frontline workers to own and lead their health and safety processes. That will require courage. But wouldn’t it be great!
At the AGM we also welcomed two new board members, Robert Stewart and Liam Nolan. Robert and Liam will both bring a lot of experience and a different perspective to the table and I am looking forward to their contribution to Charter governance.
It is not just the board members that make a valuable contribution to the charter. Our working groups are at the heart of what we do and are always ready to welcome new recruits and the new ideas they bring. More hands also make lighter work, so if you can help out, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Paul or Jocelyn.
Last but not least, the Charter exists, first and foremost, to support its members on their health and safety journey. Key to this are the 10 Commitments we all signed up to when we joined the charter. When was the last time you checked how you were doing against those? Now might be a good time. The members area of our website can help you with that.
Please also make the most of the events and workshops we will be holding during the year. These are not just a way of getting some value from your membership fees but they are also a great opportunity to catch up with your peers in the industry.
Be safe, be kind and look after yourselves and your mates.
Ian Campbell, Board Chair