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Charter September Update
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September 2020 Update

As I have alluded to in previous articles, the Covid-19 pandemic has been an incredible and very real case study in Health and Safety, with all New Zealand as the site and all New Zealanders as the participants. The re-emergence of community transmission in Auckland provides another context in which we can examine health and safety policies, procedures, and theory, and then look at how to apply the lessons to our own health and safety journey.

This latest chapter provides a very clear lens on the idea of prevention of an incident versus control of an incident. Do accidents occur because we fail to prevent an event, or because we fail to control an event. In the case of the Covid-19 re-emergence, was too much emphasis placed on trying to prevent a community outbreak rather than controlling the inevitable once it happened. The very detrimental effects of the new lockdown on our economic and social wellbeing begs the question that possibly the balance was not quite right.

After the incidents of infected people travelling through the country and the breakouts from managed isolation facilities, the emphasis was firmly on preventing the virus from getting back into the community. This was most noticeable by increased security at isolation facilities, more boots on the ground, and a change in leadership at the top. However, all these measures failed to prevent the re-emergence of community transmission.

Instead, should our focus have been more on the other side of the coin. Realising that sooner or later the virus will jump from inside the facilities to outside the facilities, and then we consider what this might look like. The most obvious conclusion is that for this to occur, the only way is through an infected person passing on the virus to a worker at the border or at an isolation facility. This immediately makes regular testing of all these potential carriers the highest priority. The fact that this was not done until after the outbreak may highlight a failure in control.

The second conclusion is around contact tracing. The sooner we can connect the dots of close contacts, the sooner any outbreak can be effectively contained. The fact that the Auckland cluster is now the largest we have seen, and has resulted in a 2-week lockdown, raises a few questions about the effectiveness of the government’s Covid tracing App. The App requires a smart phone, which many people may not own, and relies on voluntary compliance of people getting the app and then using it. Does this ring any bells about people choosing to not follow a procedure because they judge the risk as acceptable?  Where do facemasks sit in the grand scheme of control, compliance, effectiveness, and regulation?

The proposed Covid card provides an interesting alternative. This card could be issued to all New Zealanders and simply tracks all other cards it comes in close contact with. This is a technologically savvy control, with much less voluntary compliance requirements. The downside is the cost, $20 per card, which comes in at a cool $100 million. However, one figure I saw stated that the lockdown “cost” to the  Auckland economy is $500 million per week. The joker in the deck is the possibility of a vaccine, which would make this investment redundant.  Once again this is familiar health and safety territory, in which the cost to benefit ratio raises its head.

In conclusion, is prevention more important than control, or vice versa? And in the end does it all boil down to economics? 

Paul Duggan

General Manager

The thing I love the most about my national role at WorkSafe is the people I meet and have the honour of working with. The team at the Canterbury Safety Charter is a classic example of that. They have passion, they have determination and they genuinely care about the Canterbury construction community. It’s a real privilege to be on the Board and work with such a great team to support you all.

In my role, both on the Board and at WorkSafe, I am frequently asked what WorkSafe sees when our Inspectors are out and about. People want to know the common problems and they want to be able to look at those issues within their own organisations. I’m not an Inspector, but I touched base with the Canterbury inspectorate team to find out what they’re seeing in Canterbury right now.

There are three areas where we are seeing significant safety risks or harm in Canterbury and these are resulting in multiple prohibition notices and sustained compliance letters:

  • Ladders
  • Scaffold
  • Dusts and noise.

Incorrect use of ladders is a serious problem. While ladders are an important work tool, they are also high risk because they cause a significant amount of harm to workers when not used correctly – sadly a recent fatality is evidence of this.

So what types of incorrect use do we see? Recently staff attended six sites in a row and on every site, workers were observed standing above the step which was marked with ‘do not stand above this step’. Other issues are workers straddling the ladder, more than one worker on a ladder and ladders not being secured, particularly when fully extended. If you’re using a ladder for a long period of time, you should consider whether mobile scaffold is a better option for worker safety.

Scaffold is another hot topic and not because the scaffold company haven’t done their job properly (which is what people regularly tell me is the reason). It is far too common to come across scaffolding that has a ‘Scaffold unsafe’ tag because it is still under construction, and find it in use by the building company or their specialist tradies; that is just not ok! It’s also common to find the scaffold has been altered after the scaffold company has tagged it as safe. Common alterations are the removal of kick boards, guard rails and self-closing gates being wedged open.

Dust and noise, while an expected and common feature in construction work, are a high risk area. It’s not high risk because of the risk of an incident, but because of the slow and insidious nature of the harm it causes to workers and the difficulty in establishing where the harm was caused. Because it’s not immediately obvious in the way that, say, a fall from height is, it’s really important that health monitoring is undertaken on workers and in fact there is a requirement for you to do so. You should be monitoring the health of your workers and ensuring that you understand the degree of risk they are exposed to in their work. How can you mitigate a risk unless you understand their exposure to it and how can you support your staff if you don’t understand the impact it may be having on them?

We know there is significant stress in the community at the moment because of the recent lockdowns and the financial impacts of COVID-19 on revenue and future work. We’re seeing this daily at the moment with notably more emotion pouring out of people when we are undertaking worksite assessments. We recognise that and you should too. This is a time to be extra vigilant about managing behaviour on work sites; not cutting corners to meet deadlines; recognising that we all respond to stress in different ways; and managing your client’s expectations. COVID-19 is not an excuse for uncaring, even dangerous, behaviour. This is a time to be looking out for each other and pulling together to get through and ensure you all go home healthy and safe each day. Canterbury’s resilience has been tested over the past 10 years – use the experience to lead the way in looking after each other.

Kia Kaha Canterbury!

Suzanne Watt, Charter Board Member

The WorkSafe Website has a number of useful and practical resources available 

‘What if…. Crisis Planning’ Workshop Review

Friday, 28th August 2020

Key speaker, Jenny Ewing, Triage Management Systems gave valuable information that ensured everyone had something practical to take away and work on in relation to preparing their businesses for a major disruption.

What could a crisis look like for your business?  Are we really prepared to effectively manage whatever is thrown at us? Is it realistic that we be fully prepared for every situation?  Probably an impossible task but now identifying what is important and having strategies in place to safeguard those things is top of the priority list.

The Safety Charter video series ‘Weathering the Storm’ previewed the video from Clyne & Bennie Plumbing and Electrical.  Staff members were on hand to field questions about their experience as an essential business during the Level 4 Lockdown. Hearing directly from management and workers who were in the community during the lockdown, highlighted how a crisis can bring a team closer together.

Tammy Alexander, Maugers Contracting gave a very real and candid account of what COVID lockdown looked like for her.  Tammy highlighted the importance of honest communication and real conversations that helped bring an understanding amongst the team to help alleviate fear of the unknown.

It is inevitable another crisis will affect us sometime in the future. What is important to you? Do you know how you will protect your business if something unexpected happened right now?

Workshop Powerpoint Link

Submitted by Rebecca Moss, HSR Committee

News in brief

Stories making headlines this month. 

Services for Men

Do you have 2 minutes to answer  these 4 questions to assist The Canterbury Men’s Centre  in guiding services for men.  

 Read the April 2000 report Caring for Canterbury Dads: Hatched, Matched and Dispatched

Mate in Construction – Fly the Flag

“ARE YOU OKAY?” is a simple question that holds a lot of meaning.  10 September is world suicide prevention day. Make sure to not only fly the flag but also to check-in regularly on your friends and workmates on their mental health and wellbeing.

Health & Safety Scholarship

Applications for Site Safe scholarships are now open! Full scholarships for free health and safety training leading to the NZ Certificate in Workplace Health and Safety Practice (Level 3) are now available.  For further information: SiteSafe 

Health & Safety Survey

You are invited to participate in the Safeguard Health & Safety Survey, the more respondents the greater accuracy the data. The survey takes less than 5 minutes and is anonymous. You can dcomplete the survey here.. The survey closes 18 September.

The results will appear in the Sept/Oct edition of Safeguard.  

    Upcoming Charter Events
    an interactive networking event.
    Questions you are too afraid to ask….

    Thursday, 17 September.  5.30 – 8pm.  The Tannery

    Reserve your place NOW.  Limited spaces available. 

    Fundamentals of Health & Safety by Design
    Lifting the Bar – part II

    Mark it on the Calendar.   Registrations open: 21 September. 

    Friday, 16 October 2020.  11.30am – 1.30pm.  TSB Space, Turanga (Christchurch Library).  

    Welcome to New Members
    Charter Champions
    Do you have a health and safety Champion at your workplae?

    Health and safety is full of unsung heroes who work hard behind the scenes to ensure we are all working safely together.

    The Charter acknowledges people, who have demonstrated leadership to improve health and safety in the construction and wider industries.

    Read more
    Mentoring Programme
    The Charter supports signatories to mentor other signatories.

    This mentoring is free and allows signatories to have an informal discussion allowing the mentor to provide advice and support based on the mentor’s experience to the mentee. If you are from a Charter signatory company, and are seeking some mentoring, please complete the form at the following link and a Charter member will be in touch.

    Read more
    Canterbury Safety Charter

    7 Winston Ave, Papanui, Christchurch, Christchurch
    New Zealand

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