• Peter Bateman
    236
    A couple of weeks back @Rebecca Macfie reported in a Newsroom piece on her interview with WorkSafe chief exec Phil Parkes.

    She noted that Parkes is pursuing a dual strategy: the regulator remains engaged in regular enforcement action and prosecutions, it is also seeking to tackle the wider causes of injury and illness by pursuing organisations with 'upstream duties' in the supply chain, challenging the contracting models in particular sectors, and putting the heat on senior people with officer duties sitting at the boardroom table.

    Macfie notes that some within MBIE are uneasy at this new direction and would prefer WorkSafe "stick to its knitting" of enforcement.

    What do you think - is Parkes pushing the regulator beyond its natural scope? Or is his agenda the kind of new approach worthy of a trial?
  • Steve H
    265
    Given that workplace death rates have not changed a jott in the last twenty years, and serious workplace accidents have been steadily increasing year on year, as the Government's arm charged with changing that, guess they have to try every approach.
  • Rob McAulay
    23
    Hi Peter, No I think it is a natural progression to start challenging the views and practices up stream and should be part of the regulators role.
  • Aaron Marshall
    88
    A successful regulator is one that works with industry, not against it. We've seen in aviation that the initiatives that CAA has involved the industry in have had far more success than those that have been forced upon us.
    Every time CAA gets heavy-handed or unreasonable over interpretation or enforcement, industry pushes back.
  • Margaret
    18
    Perhaps a push on modern regulatory practice might be more appropriate?
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    36
    The toxins (many of them carcinogens) from fire damaged houses last for years after the fire. Current industry practices does not manage the risk. The fire service has high levels of cancer. Contractors such as builders, sparkies, plumbers are not aware of the risks.

    I am (unsuccessfully) trying to get worksafe to lift their game and get better education and management of these high risk locations. So if Phil Parkes makes this happen I will rest easy at night.
  • Benjamin Basevi
    3
    If WorkSafe is still keeping within the mandate of its enacting legislation and its primary statutory instruments, then there would be an ministerial expectation(?) that the agency would investigate all best-value-for-life initiatives, some of which do need to be innovative for the reasons Steve has identified above. Good on the nous of the CEO for taking on this task - I applaud his courage and vision. Creating and maintaining safe workplaces is a goal that requires multiple measures and any worker that does not get home is a damn good reason for trying something "radically" different to how ordinary businesses are treating safety in the workplace, entities which by their nature are sometimes over-influenced by shareholder expectations, with Pike River being a terrible and ghastly example. New Zealand has also for too long wallowed in complacency around workplace safety fostered by that she'll be right attitude and fixing stuff with a piece of No. 8 wire, vital in the trenches of war but not when felling trees in our pine plantations.
  • Benjamin Basevi
    3
    Hi Stuart, what information are you sourcing for cancer rates on fire-fighters? Is it NZ data? FENZ fire-fighters are supplied with adequate respiratory protection via their self-contained positive pressure breathing apparatus but are perhaps more likely to absorb products of combustion via skin in the normal course of work when their higher levels of PPE may not be in use e.g. dampening down, making up and cleaning equipment after a fire.

    I am not disputing the hazardous nature of stuff that been burnt and these by-products remaining on intact surfaces, water-logged gib, soot and char etc.

    Are there not construction industry guidelines on this, as a building that has been on fire and is now being stripped/repaired is clearly a contaminated work-site and there is obvious benefit from an endorsed guide or code published by a building industry agency to assist those preparing for such work, (which may also include encasing or surface sealing to minimise release of nasties). The local territorial authority would also have a responsibility as they will be signing off a renovated fire-damaged building as safe so would expect various conditions to be laid down in the approved building consent.
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    36
    The risk to health comes from after the fire is put out. In the "dampening down" stage the toxins will be at high concentrations. The perception is that the risk is low. That is not so.

    If there are guidelines, I have never heard of them. I have on many occasions seen contractors go in there unprotected where the risk still exists.

    Positive pressure is only good if the filters that clean the air take out the toxins. How do you know that happens? Do the filters remove formaldehyde? What is the end of life of these filters?

    There is a culture of saying - yep it is alright, there is no problem. There is no risk. This needs to change.

    Below is an example of a recently damaged house and the fire service invites Joe Public in for a visit.

    The Fire
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/127496020/horror-in-huntly--open-home-on-january-16-at-5-gavin-place

    The invite to go and look
    https://www.facebook.com/HuntlyFire/posts/kia-ora-huntlyin-the-early-hours-of-saturday-morning-we-were-called-to-a-house-f/679577586744135/

    Fire Fighters and Cancer
    https://www.1news.co.nz/2019/05/23/calls-for-law-to-acknowledge-high-rates-of-cancer-among-firefighters-dying-at-record-numbers/
  • Craig Marriott
    206
    WorkSafe's remit is pretty broad and involves education, engagement and guidance for anyone who has duties under the Act; advice and recommendations to improve the broader safety system and establishing partnerships and collaborating with other interested parties. That pretty much covers everything Phil is suggesting here, so this is already 'sticking to its knitting'. MBIE wrote the legislation that requires them to do this, so the direction shouldn't come as a surprise.
  • Benjamin Basevi
    3

    Hi Stuart. Positive pressure breathing apparatus does not have filters as the higher air pressure within the full-face mask works to keep out anything from entering, provided that that the wearer has a good face seal i.e. no beards, straps in the seal etc. In dampening-down type work when the fire is out and crews are doing a stand-by to ensure re-ignition does not occur (and it is impractical to continue wearing the full noise breathing apparatus I would (presume) that is when filter-only PPE might be worn and the correct filter replacement would simply be part of the normal/regular equipment checks and protocols after use.
  • Benjamin Basevi
    3
    Hi Stuart. Me again! Have you touched base with BRANZ? This entity would seem to an appropriate body to sort out a guide in conjunction with WorkSafe and Fire Engineers from FENZ. There may already be well-researched guides in existence for this specific hazard - suggest web-searching in Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
    Regards
    Ben
  • John Frampton
    9
    Peter
    I am all in favour of this change in direction from Worksafe. I am of the view that this new approach is definately worthy of a trial and I would like to think that it covers off the likes of Prequal. Prequal in my view should slot under Part 1 HSW Section 28 No contracting out. We need to drive out the fear that is imposed on some contractors through the necessity to complete a Prequal commitment.

    Again my view is that they add little to the workplace compliance and the News from the Courts media article in every Safeguard magazine reconfirms my opinions. That article is full of companies who have made the headlines but have a prequal of some description in place. Third party contracting out.

    @Fiona J Jones article on prequal is the November/December magazine was fantastic evidence of good research however, her brief was too narrow to include the contracting out.
  • MattD2
    288
    it is also seeking to tackle the wider causes of injury and illness by pursuing organisations with 'upstream duties' in the supply chain, challenging the contracting models in particular sectors, and putting the heat on senior people with officer duties sitting at the boardroom table.Peter Bateman
    I must be confused because aren't all those things essentially specified sections in HSWA? The only one that might not be is "challenging the contracting models in particular sectors" but that's only down to WorkSafe NZ targeting their resources to higher risk sectors.

    Macfie notes that some within MBIE are uneasy at this new direction and would prefer WorkSafe "stick to its knitting" of enforcement.Peter Bateman

    The cynic in me interprets that as senior management is uneasy at more scrutiny of senior managers... in the guise of it taking away from scrutiny of "were the risk really is" in an organisation which is at the workface (or in other words the old fashion viewpoint that the workers create the risk)... the super-cynic in me thinks this may be because once they leave MBIE they will like be in a position where this increase scrutiny will really hit home for them... :joke:
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    36
    Benjamin Basevi "Positive pressure breathing apparatus does not have filters"

    If you are referring to self contained breathing apparatus. You may be right I don't know. If you are referring to what is commonly know positive pressure masks, such as shown on this website.

    https://www.3mnz.co.nz/3M/en_NZ/p/c/ppe/respiratory-protection/powered-supplied-air/

    They do have filters. They filter the ambient air and supply it to the wearer. The filters and cartridges just like all others have a limited life time.
  • Michael Wilson
    116
    I am still waiting for the effects of the NZIPS to kick in. Fingers crossed.
  • Scott Williams
    16

    For my two cents worth of feedback. It's not just worthy of a trial, it is exactly what needs to be done.
  • Janet Mary Houston
    28
    Phil and his team at WorkSafe must navigate unchartered waters if we are ever going to make any significant inroads to the heinous workplace stats that don't seem to be reducing. Personally I am 100% behind this initiative ...
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