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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Failsafe or self-responsibility?

Failsafe or self-responsibility?
Article Type:
Publication Date:
New Zealand

Workers have a right to be protected from the consequences of their own mistakes, WorkSafe New Zealand CEO Gordon MacDonald told the conference.

During a panel discussion a member of the audience asked if workers should be held responsible for their own safety if they failed to use equipment in the way it was intended.

"I'm not against self-responsibility," MacDonald responded, "but unfortunately, until a couple of years ago, it was all I ever heard from employers. I think there has been an over-emphasis on it. People do silly things, they get tired and make mistakes."

MacDonald said employers should invest in "failsafe, foolproof" equipment that would not operate unless it was used safely, rather than rely on workers to always do the right thing.

"It's not just about self-responsibility, but about systems and culture and social context as well."

Research indicates that "an unhealthy proportion" of both workers and managers believe the prime responsibility for health and safety rests with individuals, he said, but bad decisions can be made for good reasons.

"There was an accident involving a log splitter, on which the logs were fed between two big gnarly rollers. One day the guy operating the machine helped a log along because it got a bit jammed, and you can imagine the rest - leg went in, leg off.

"There are two schools of thought on that. One says 'Stupid idiot - how could you put your foot in there?' The other says he was paid to get the job done, and that was what he was trying to do.

"I agree entirely with the proposition that we create environments that are forgiving of the errors that we will inevitably make in life, because to err is to be human."

People Mentioned:
Gordon MacDonald
Organisations Mentioned:
WorkSafe NZ
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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