• Craig Marriott
    163
    One of the concerns I have about the safety industry is that it is too insular. We don't spend enough time listening to, and working with, people from other disciplines. As a journalist looking in from the outside, have you seen anything that you think we would particularly benefit from?
  • Rebecca Macfie
    27
    Hi Angie, my perception of the agency is that it has done a really outstanding job. Incredibly thorough and careful, they have proved that safety came first a number of times, and the dedication of the staff there is palpable to me whenever i have met with them. I think there is a strong chance of important forensic evidence being recovered from pit bottom in stone, and this is a fundamental goal. The police team involved are very focused and - again in my perception from talking to them from time to time - highly motivated. Regarding pushing on through the rockfall, it won't happen under this arrangement, and I honestly doubt it will ever happen, but this is a story without end it seems, and nothing would surprise me.
  • Rebecca Macfie
    27
    Hi Robert - ok, key lessons i think would be:
    • Beware self-interested talk of industry self-regulation.
    • Resist the temptation to call sound health and safety law "red tape".
    • Never forget the human toll when health and safety is disregarded as a mere cost.
    • Prioritise ways that workers' voices can be heard safety - they know what they do every minute and every hour and they are the experts in their tasks.
    • Never let the inspectorate be degraded as it was through the 1990s and 2000s
  • Chris Hewitt
    5
    Where do you stand on the usefulness of Industrial Manslaughter legislation as a deterrent or mechanism to hold directors & officers to account?
  • Steve H
    20
    If the Pike29 had their time over again and they could turn back the clock what is the one thing you think they would do differently from a workers perspective?Matt Ward

    Leave. My son in law worked as a miner at Pike, after previously working in Australian mines.

    He left exactly one week before the mine exploded. Pike River was a $500 problem for which there was only ever about $50 to solve.

    Going back to the H&S regulator, would having a charge of corporate manslaughter available to them make any real difference?
  • Rebecca Macfie
    27
    Hi Craig, really interesting question. It's probably hard for me to comment as an outsider, but I guess my hunch is that health and safety practitioners still struggle for mana and respect within their organisations often, particularly if the culture from the top (the boardroom) is still to regard H&S as a red tape cost. I don't do the work you do, but it strikes me as a really tough mix of procedures and internal mechanisms, messaging, honest communication, really really good listening skills, a fair bit of psychology and probably a bit of behavioural economics. So yes, I guess my impression is that you really need a rich mix of disciplines. Not sure if that really answers your question!
  • Kim Payton
    1
    Hi Rebecca - I agree and am witnessing this occurring. The uncertainty created by COVID-19 is leading to behaviours at both the top level and front line that are a challenge for many safety practitioners. We need to find the courage to speak up, support, challenge and influence the workplace, and find innovative ways for the workers' voice to be heard. I also believe there is a disconnect between Government's view of work and how many people are only just surviving pay check to pay check - especially our 'essential' workers.
  • Rebecca Macfie
    27
    HI Steve, I imagine that has been incredibly difficult for your son in law. It's easy to forget that the ripple effect of this thing extends far, far beyond the immediate families.
    Re corporate manslaughter, I am sympathetic to it but (perhaps surprisingly) I haven't really studied the pros and cons in real depth. I know there are some reservations from a legal perspective. I wonder if the HSW Act was being enforced as it should, with the capacity to reach high up the food chain with prosecutions, if it would be necessary to enact corporate manslaughter?
  • Admin
    18
    OK, time to wrap it up. Rebecca - many thanks for making yourself available to the Forum and for your thoughtful responses to some really good questions.
    For those Forum members who haven't yet read Rebecca's book, get the details here.
  • Rebecca Macfie
    27
    Hi Kim, I can understand. Particularly in a climate of rising unemployment, mad housing prices and a sense of economic volatility. Can I ask a question? Is one of the problems for H&S practitioners that the "process" side of your jobs (the rules, trigger points, processes etc) is so big, and the task of getting that stuff over the line, such that there isn't enough time and creative energy left to think about this huge matter of communication, creation of safety for workers to speak up etc?
  • Rebecca Macfie
    27
    Thanks all for a great conversation. It's a privilege.
    Ngā mihi nui
  • Kim Payton
    1
    Great question. My personal experience is, yes. Boards and management are anxious to ensure compliance with documentation. This is partly driven by what it is believed the regulator expects vs understanding the business, asking workers to document the way they do things, and the H&S professional working with and across the business to communicate what is actually needed. Another perspective is the failure of senior management to communicate business direction or decisions in general terms to workers to help them understand context for change. I argue that communication is the foundation of good health and safety practice - and will do all I can to help achieve that throughout the organisations I work for. So good to 'talk' to you. Thank you.
  • Steve H
    20
    I wonder if the HSW Act was being enforced as it should, with the capacity to reach high up the food chain with prosecutions, if it would be necessary to enact corporate manslaughter?Rebecca Macfie

    That is both the problem, and solution in one. WorkSafe amongst it's many roles, is also the Electrical Regulator in New Zealand, it shows little interest in any kind of policing of the regulations it's supposed to be enforcing. In part this is a resources problem, but it also appears to be driven by an ideological view, that a hands off approach is best (think Meerkats) I have news.....it's not working.
  • Peter Bateman
    175
    Craig, as editor of Safeguard I'm always keen to bring new perspectives to readers. Which other disciplines do you think would most help to broaden the discussion?
  • Craig Marriott
    163
    Hi Peter, some examples:
    Psychology and social psychology - understanding why and how people make decisions (we have started to make some good moves in this area)
    Systems engineering / systems thinking - how complex systems interact and the breakdown of direct cause and effect with increasing complexity
    Engineering - lessons to be leant from process safety and safety in design
    Risk management - understanding stochastic models and how that impacts on risk exposure
    Statistics - recognising why most of what we measure and track has almost no predictive value
    Leadership and management theory - for (hopefully) obvious reasons

    That's not exhaustive, though. This is what I wrote when thinking about this in my book:
    A top quality safety professional is conversant with organisational culture; organisational psychology; individual psychology; motivational theories; basic medical requirements; an understanding of chemicals and their effects; probability and risk theory; ergonomics; engineering techniques across all disciplines; operational activities across a range of industries; the process impact of temperature and pressure; legislation and regulation; communication techniques and influencing skills from workface to board and everywhere in between; statistical analysis and a whole host of other complexities
  • Peter Bateman
    175
    Thanks. Whew. Time for a cup of tea and a lie down.
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