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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

By example

We asked half a dozen people to cite examples of inspiring and effective health and safety leadership they have observed, at any level of an organisation.

Matt Sadgrove

Paul Berg is a Delta Contracts Manager out of our Alexandra branch in Central Otago. He was our project lead throughout the entire Clyde power station unit one seal replacement project, which was a culmination of over 12 months work. He ran the front line staff, liaising with Contact Energy staff and Farra Engineering to obtain safe outcomes on what was unknown territory.

The project involved a number of potential fatal risk elements, with heavy crane lifts (up to 300 tonnes), confined space, hot work, working at height and high temperature atmosphere work. These were compounded by the involvement of multiple work parties, the need to design and manufacture specialist tooling, and controlling a large area for unassociated vehicles, plant and foot traffic.

Paul’s safety leadership showed its hand early, with pre-start meetings and solid, crystal clear communication on expectations and responsibilities for the work being done on a daily basis with both the client and contractor present. Minutes from these meetings were posted on site project notice boards each day for reference. This was essential as it was the first time that one of Contact’s Clyde units had been completely stripped and the turbine removed since commissioning in 1992.

It is Paul’s view that communication is the most effective tool at keeping people safe and the customer happy. Being regularly on site and being available at all times off site meant all actions could be dealt with efficiently. Paul’s approach was to be proactive with communication so that it was not always instigated by the client, enabling him to express a heightened sense of care for his team and duties on site in regard to safety. He also instigated project progress meetings with compulsory representation from all groups present as an additional chance for input and understanding. Paul was quick to embrace the best approach, whether it be from the client or contractors, and make it standard for the on site team.

Being safety champion led Paul to achieve the dream result of handing in a completed job without incident or injury. Paul was flexible, resourceful and strong when needed, but most of all a great communicator – both talking and listening – which led me to nominate him for our Delta Safety Leader of the Year Award, which he deservedly won.

Matt Sadgrove is senior advisor safety and risk with Delta.

Hugh Norriss

I have been inspired by the work of Trish Knight, occupational health & wellness advisor at Wellington City Council. Trish has shown leadership in providing a proactive response in the area of men’s mental health, which most organisations struggle to even think about. Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and general lack of wellbeing are highly prevalent in our society and common in workplaces. Men tend have their own particular issues relating to this such as reluctance to own up that they are not coping, and knowing where to seek help.

Trish had noted that she was dealing with a number of individual cases that involved mental health challenges with men, so decided to take an organised approach to intervene early. With the help of some senior managers in the Council who had experienced their own mental health struggles she organised a series of ongoing workshops for staff (aimed at men, but also open to women). These workshops, called One For The Blokes, include humour, videos where managers talk about their own path through mental health challenges (and who also attend to answer questions), and tools and tips to stay well and where to get help.

What I really like about this initiative is that it stays positive, it encourages peer support (men sharing their own experiences and assisting each other), it is proactive and intervenes early rather than allowing problems to escalate. From evaluations of the workshops I have seen that they can literally be a lifesaver for men who thought that they were the only ones struggling and that there was no help at hand. One for the Blokes socialises ideas of good health, supporting each other, and intervening early in a large organisation.

Hugh Norriss is director of policy and development with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

Allyson Harwood

I accompanied a large construction project’s health and safety coordinator to a waste water treatment plant, about a kilometre from the main site, to check on a crew of contractors.

The crew had been inducted and had been issued a permit to work. They were to offload materials with a Hiab truck-mounted crane.

While the HS coordinator performed the audit I could tell by his actions and body language that he was picking up some non-compliances. It turned out there was no current certification of the truck-mounted crane, the operator lacked a licence to operate the crane, and the webbing slings were not currently tagged and in very poor condition.

The HS coordinator took the time to ascertain the full story and to explain carefully what he found non-compliant, and that any non-compliance was not acceptable. When he had finished he came over to me and was upset that this level of non-compliance with a work permit had occurred.

The outcome was that he explained to the crew, in full, the reasons why he must stop their work and send the truck away offsite to gain certification. He felt that they were receptive to his explanations, as he took the time to explain and educate, which I could clearly see that he was doing.

He told me that while such situations were disappointing, it’s all in the way you get the message across so that people look at the situation positively and change their attitude/culture towards health and safety. Another person might have adopted a completely different style of leadership in dealing with a non-compliant and unsafe situation. Although we don’t know how well the crew understood the positive leadership and message in the end, I felt the way in which this situation was dealt with would have better success in instilling a positive behaviour change, than one using negativism and bullying to get a message across.

Allyson Harwood is national president of the NZ Occupational Health Nurses’ Association.

Tim Marsh

I’d like to use a very simple example of an incident that has stuck with me over the years as I heard only recently that the chap in question died earlier in 2015. His name was Dave Fanning of Chep UK and he was an excellent leader. Fair, resolute, consistent, thoughtful, clear in his communications – just everything a leader should be. (A former rugby league player, he was a key leader in a project that saw accident rates quartered nationwide in 18 months).

One of the things Dave knew how to do was to give feedback for maximum impact and minimum unintended consequence. (Criticising people in front of others “for effect” achieves both – a change in behaviour, often, but also deep resentment at the “shame” inflicted that inevitably generates other – negative – behaviours and mindsets).

The incident I remember was at a residential training event where one of the employees/trainees was rude to a waitress – nothing too serious but over the line all the same. Dave saw this but said nothing, waited a minute or two, then casually asked the young chap if he could have a quick word about something that “has just occurred to me”.

Unconcerned, the young chap said “sure, Dave” and followed him out of the room. When he came back five minutes later the chap was shaken and white and, before he left the room, gave an apology to the waitress that was sincere.

A classy bloke, Dave Fanning. Remembered fondly.

Tim Marsh is chairman of UK consultancy RyderMarshSharman. He will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Safeguard National Health & Safety Conference in May.

June Hoddle

In the great expanse of Central Otago lies the tiny settlement of Lauder and one of the more remote NIWA sites. Dan Smale, a health and safety representative and atmospheric technician, works there with a handful of others. Concerns were raised over the danger and difficulty of working on the roof of the support building while servicing the instrument hatches, leading to the idea of a safety walkway.

Dan, in his then joint role of health and safety representative and safety administrator, led the project through to its completion. The walkway fulfils admirably the main function of allowing unimpeded and safe access to the roof hatches. Now, instead of ladders, harnesses and a need for two trained people, access to a roof hatch is a matter of strolling up stairs and along a railed walkway.

Since the walkway was completed other advantages have become apparent; much time is saved on routine cleaning and inspection, and there is space up on the roof for new experiments.

Dan is proud of the achievement and acknowledges the support for the project from his employer. This is a great example of a health and safety representative showing leadership to improve safety while also building effective engagement between management and the site workforce.

It is people like Dan who inspire me – health and safety representatives making a real difference to workers’ lives.

June Hoddle from R J Learn and Develop Ltd is an educator and facilitator who works with health and safety representatives and managers.

Wayne Butson

Ian Dixon is an experienced Locomotive Engineer (LE), or train driver, and was an acting team leader at KiwiRail’s Middleton Yard in Christchurch.

Like all LEs, he is a member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU). Five years ago he lost his brother at Pike River.

RMTU members in KiwiRail work in some of the most challenging environments in the world. The Otira Tunnel is a part of the network that requires them to be constantly on their guard.

It is a dangerous place and one that the RMTU spends an inordinate amount of time and effort to make as safe as possible.

The risk from exhaust gases or smoke in the event of a fire is very real and one that KiwiRail and the RMTU have done a great deal of work to mitigate.

In September 2015 there was a fire on a loco in the tunnel. The RMTU was under the impression that KiwiRail had installed fire suppression on all locos working in the tunnel.

We discovered that this was not the case and that while fire detection was installed, suppression was not fitted to all engines.

We also discovered that firefighting equipment at Arthur’s Pass station was inadequate.

Ian contacted WorkSafe NZ and NZTA and spoke out. He was subjected to pressure from management as a consequence but he did not back off. Instead he called on his union to support him and, with the backing of his delegate and RMTU National Office staff, he made sure immediate measures were put in place to protect the safety of workers in the tunnel.

This was not easy and required him to hold his position during some heated discussions. Management eventually relented however, and a full investigation was started by WorkSafe and NZTA.

At the RMTU’s end of year membership meeting Ian was awarded a certificate of appreciation from his fellow members.

He gave a short but very moving speech as he accepted this: “No family should go through what we’ve been through with the loss of my brother,” he said. “If it’s not safe don’t hold back. Stand your ground – it’s not worth lives being lost.”

Ian is an example to every worker in New Zealand.

Wayne Butson is general secretary of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

Thomson Reuters

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