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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

The Forum

Our selection of questions to the online Safeguard Forum. Browse the answers and/or join the forum at

Q: A workplace incident occurs which has the potential to cause serious harm but no injury is suffered. The company records the details in its accident register, investigates, and makes improvements. Is it also required to notify the Department of Labour of the incident?

Q: Does anyone know where I can find health and safety e-learning training for managers?

Q: We need to store our archived records in a building with five rows of shelving accessible from both sides, and up to three metres high.

The boxes will be stored two high. Where can I source equipment like ladders, stackers and lifters to enable boxes to be stacked and retrieved safely?

Q: A member of the public suffered a cut and bruising when he was hit by a rock flung from a mower cutting grass in a public park. Can anyone advise of a safe operating procedure for this activity?

Q: We are considering using on-site chair massage to alleviate our sprains and strains. Is it considered to be an effective intervention?

The Pike River disaster prompted much debate and soul-searching on the forum about how to significantly lift NZ’s OHS performance from its current level. Here is an edited selection of comments.

We must put in place a culture – not just regulation or systems – that make it less likely that [major injury incidents will occur] in the future. If we don’t press for this type of response now, are we truly fulfilling our roles as safety practitioners? Perhaps we should always be agitating for change, regardless of our level of discomfort? When this forum and the associations that may seek to represent us want this too, I will have greater confidence that we are on the way to becoming safety professionals, not just paying our mortgages.

We should place more emphasis on leadership and enabling personal responsibility for individual behaviour. Safety is very largely about individual behaviour, whether it’s the boss leading by example or employees having enough ownership and ability to take sensible decisions when no one is watching. People don’t follow even the best systems unless they want to. There are many examples from around the world to demonstrate that simplifying systems and encouraging individual acceptance of responsibility achieves safer and better workplaces.

Countries with advanced cultures of safety have strong and well resourced regulators as a driver of change and societal values. They work on things like culture, leadership and strategy – as well as the bottom line standards we see enshrined in legislation. These regulators create a sense of ongoing unease around safety. They offend our senses and challenge our views. Perhaps this is a test of our current culture – and may be a marker of the type of culture we might strive to have.

I’m not saying that workplace culture hasn’t got an important role to play, but if it is the focus (“instead of”) rather than in conjunction with a strong inspectorate/regulator then we may be doomed to a laissez-faire health and safety sector for many years to come.

Thomson Reuters

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