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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Safeguard Magazine

Community—Follow the leaders

A group of Wellington OHS advocates is considering following the lead of the Wairarapa, Hutt Valley and Kapiti by establishing a local employers health and safety forum.

They met at the Ministry of Justice (hosted by Theresa Khatchian), to discuss the idea and were inspired by Rodney Fraser, a health and safety advisor at JNL (Juken New Zealand Ltd) in the Wairarapa.

Fraser outlined how the Wairarapa H&S group he belonged to would regularly meet to chew the fat over all things health and safety. “It’s hands-on, grass roots stuff.” The group had over time established itself as an influential player in the wider community.

Fraser said members had found strength in numbers. It was easier to get someone to come over the Rimutakas from Wellington to talk to 30 people about the HSNO Act, for instance, rather than to just a couple.

“It is an opportunity to share information, knowledge, training resources and experiences … they also share their collective ignorance and feel safe to ask what something means without being embarrassed.”

Forty organisations were represented in the group with nearly all regularly attending the monthly meetings or at least sending their apologies. They were mostly small outfits – only three companies represented had more than 100 employees and five had over 50 workers.

Five of the members were company directors but had a very hands-on involvement with their businesses. Fraser noted that he was the only person with “health and safety” in his job title and for many it was just part of what they did.

Fraser said the aim was to raise the bar for the community as a whole, beyond just safety at work. “It’s not just about our work environment but subliminally raising the safety bar for the whole community.”

Confidentiality was paramount as they often shared their “dirty laundry”, but with the aim to take away lessons. The group would look at case studies and prosecutions that had recently been in the news, as well as doing quizzes and practical exercises in hazard identification. Most importantly, said Fraser, they had fun. “We enjoy attending.”

Julian Hughes, executive director of the NZ Health and Safety Business Leaders Forum, also spoke to the group to give an update on that organisation’s developments around benchmarking and online tools for risk management.

Hughes said he was a firm believer that the Forum would have a significant influencing part to play in New Zealand’s future health and safety arena. This included influencing contractor management and procurement.

Hughes conceded the Forum had been “leaning heavily on the Department of Labour” but was now developing a revenue stream, and had formed an independent structure (of which just over 80 members had re-signed to).

Thomson Reuters

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