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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Contractor questions

Contractor questions
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Publication Date:
New Zealand

"The hardest thing for you is direct engagement with people. Finding out the truth is key. So you would do well to learn a good set of questions."

Graham Darlow's advice to directors and chief executives came during the Auckland launch of the Business Leaders' Health and Safety Forum's new Contractor Initiative, which seeks to influence health and safety through tapping into the supply chain.

Darlow, chief executive of Fletcher Construction, shared with his audience at the Northern Club three questions he often uses when going on site to speak with workers:

  • How does safety on this site compare to other sites you've worked on?
  • What's the most unsafe thing you'll do today?
  • That guy driving the crane, do you think he's ok?

As manager of the quake-damaged house repair project, Fletcher's challenge in Christchurch was to work with more than a thousand contractors largely unknown to it and whose approach to health and safety wasn't great.

"When we started talking to contracting firms they really didn't like it. Their concern was that it was going to extend into the wider part of their business. A lot of them didn't get it."

Fletcher EQR set minimum health and safety standards, helped launch the Safe6 programme, and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Canterbury Rebuild Safety Charter. It was, said Darlow, an opportunity to set safety standards for residential housing contractors in Christchurch and extend them to the rest of the country. Now, when he travels even to quite remote parts of the country, he is proud to observe homes under construction fully scaffolded against falls - and the big house building firms have confirmed to him that the result is better planning and superior productivity.

Vigilance is always required, however. He said he recently had a frank conversation with a painter on a large Christchurch rebuild project who told him he could never speak to his boss like this because his boss reckoned Fletcher had such good health and safety standards that he didn't have to bother any more.

Needless to say, Darlow says he will be "engaging" with the painter's boss.

Julian Hughes, the Forum's executive director, said the Contracting Initiative was aimed at business leaders and was in four parts: a commitment, a request for action, an online self-assessment to gain understanding, and building a "cohort" of business leaders prepared to work together on the issue.

People Mentioned:
Graham Darlow; Julian Hughes
Organisations Mentioned:
Fletcher EQR; Business Leaders' Health and Safety Forum
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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