CHASNZ on workplace fatalities, mental health, site access and pre-qual

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CHASNZ on workplace fatalities, mental health, site access and pre-qual

Chris Alderson, CEO of Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ) provides an update on key topics and issues in health and safety in the construction industry.

In this issue CHASNZ focus is on workplace fatalities, mental health, site access and the Tōtika pre-qualification framework.

As I write this mid-November, there has been 14 construction related fatalities this calendar year. This is double the previous years fatality count and the worst performance from a health and safety perspective over the last decade. Far from getting better, we have been getting worse. The people who have lost their lives come from all parts of New Zealand and span civil, residential and commercial construction. Incidents with moving vehicles and working at height dominate this statistic and the graph below shows the main causes of death in construction over the past 8 years.

Construction is an inherently volatile and risky activity. The environment is volatile, in that work is often undertaken outdoors and within proximity to public factors such as traffic and other business activity. The nature of building itself is about change. Activities on-site include known high-risk activities such working at height, working around mobile plant, hot work and within proximity to services.

At CHASNZ, we believe that we can address this volatile risk environment by investing more in our people both at the foundational and supervisory level, as well as recognising that the right control environments create safety margins necessary for this high-risk work to be undertaken.

For this reason, CHASNZ is asking the construction industry to lift their practices in particular when it comes to training, assessment, inductions and supervision. A new draft Guideline to Site Access covering industry requirements has been created and is available from the CHASNZ website. This document is currently out for consultation and is expected to be finalised early in 2020.

Our front-line supervisors also require more investment in health and safety training as these are critical in ensuring that work is only undertaken when controls are in place and their experience in recognising and avoiding unsafe working conditions is vital. We need to give front line supervisors the resources and time to supervise effectively across their teams. ACC subsidised training is currently available for front line leaders, through a number of providers and CHASNZ would like to see a greater uptake across the industry.

CHASNZ is also finalising the details of the Tōtika framework, which will come into place early next year. Tōtika is a contractor pre-qualification cross recognition scheme. More details are available on the CHASNZ website, but the main drive for Tōtika is to remove the duplication in effort and expense for contractors undertaking multiple pre-qualifications.

On the mental health front, Mates in Construction, the suicide prevention program from Australia has been launched in Auckland, with strong support across the sector. Five commercial sites are currently active and the program will also be rolled out across the Central Interceptor project and nationally on large residential sites. It is a good start and I’m confident the program will make a huge difference to the people who work across our construction sites.

For further information please contact or visit the CHASNZ webpage

Chris Alderson, CEO

Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ)

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