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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Safeguard Magazine

Hi-Vis—Aaron Tait-Jones

SAFETY AND HEALTH MANAGER, TRANSPOWER

What is your background?

I am a proud Wellingtonian and Kiwi. I spent 14 years as a part-time soldier in the New Zealand Army, while at the same time working in various safety roles for the Wellington City Council, Land Transport Safety Authority, ACC, Natural Gas Corporation, Siemens, Tenix, and now Transpower. During this time I have been privileged to be involved in ensuring safe work practices in many places throughout the world, including Europe, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Describe your current employment

I am the safety and health manager for Transpower responsible for developing the safety culture, initiatives and improving our overall safety performance.

Why did you become involved in health & safety?

I love helping people. It’s the people aspect that draws me to this profession, as well as the wide variety of experiences the role brings. I first started in safety 20 years ago as a safety assistant in human resources at the Wellington City Council. The safety manager had access to – and frequently visited – every site in the business and wrote reports for the executive. I thought it would be an exciting career choice. His advice to me was if you love the work, then go to university and study it.

What training have you had for the role?

I studied safety at Massey University in Palmerston North and since then I’ve broadened my knowledge of hazardous substances, confined space, traffic management, supervision, management, and work in gas and electrical environments, through the NZQA framework. The important thing is that I’m still learning every day.

What has been your most satisfying achievement so far?

Making zero harm a reality at Siemens New Zealand, which was done by having absolute commitment from everyone throughout the organisation, from development to implementation. If everyone gets behind the vision and achieves it, this can be extremely rewarding.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do?

Achieving and maintaining zero harm is difficult, but having to tell a family member that someone has died at work and attend the funeral is by far the hardest. It’s a hard lesson to learn, especially if it happens on your watch. You can’t help but take that sort of thing personally.

What has surprised you about the role?

Safety is wide-reaching in scope and provides opportunity for you to have a positive influence on improvements at work and at home. It’s a difficult job because it’s about people, and there is always work to do, but also very satisfying and rewarding.

How has the role changed you?

I listen and question more. I try hard to understand different perspectives and facilitate win/ win outcomes.

What advice would you give anyone thinking of entering the field?

Do it because you love it, not for money or anything else. Check that safety matches your personal values of family or helping others etc. Communication and strong relationships are some of the most important elements to success, including respecting others, listening carefully and finishing work that you start. Everyone makes mistakes but if you can learn from them you will achieve your goals. A high level of self-awareness will also help you to help others.

What is the most risky thing you’ve done?

I have learnt a lot from my many mistakes but once – and I guess this only happens once – I accidently dropped a live 105mm high explosive bomb on the ground, primer first. At the time I remember closing my eyes, gritting my teeth hard and thinking damn, I am lucky.

Thomson Reuters

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