• Jan Hall
    One of my clients received an impromtu visit from a Worksafe inspector. The inspector told my client that H&S Consultants were " expensive, created a whole lot of useless documents. didn't help clients to learn about health and safety" and the client could do it all himself.

    I'm sure we've all encountered the 'paperwork' of such Consultants. Recently a new client showed me their existing 31 item commercial construction induction, one item of which was "I have read and understood the HSWA 2015 and will abide by the provisions contained therein"!

    Interested to see what others think of this. Myself I consider it inappropriate for any member of Worksafe NZ to disparage all H&S consultants for the failings of some. I don't hesitate to tell people of the availability of on-line, do-it-yourself alternatives: Site Safe SSSP, Worksafe NZ's Farmsafe tookit etc. ( My client thought it especially amusing since he initially tried to engage me to "do all the h&s stuff" for him and I told him I would not!)
  • Andrew
    If its a statement of fact (as evidenced by the 31 page Induction and dodgy sign off) how can a comment be disparaging.
  • Rob Abraas
    It could also be said (I am not suggesting this to be the case) that it is inappropriate for members of the public or H&S consultants to disparage all Worksafe NZ inspectors for the failings of some.
  • Simon Lawrence
    Those last two comments by Andrew and Rob probably sum it up. Neither party should make petty generalisations about the other.

    My sympathies lie to some extent with Worksafe. At least they go out on most days pointing at real things to say they are unsafe. Their strong suit just isn’t going to be about safety systems. That’s too long term. They are on the front line.

    But the landscape is full of “consultants” waving bits of paper as solutions. Unless they can back the paper up with some glue to hold it all together, they need to be called out for the charlatans they are.

  • Jan Hall
    Agree Simon.

    Andrew a 'statement of fact' would be about one dodgy practitioner. Besides: that was MY experience. A generalisation about ALL practitioners is a disparagement not a 'statement of fact'.

    Rob Abraas of course! Just - Worksafe NZ is the NZ Government H&S regulator. Some expectation of professional behaviour might be legitimate.

    My experience of Worksafe NZ personnel so far is that they've all been excellent! Helpful, practical, with demands for records pared down to essentials. Excellent attitude. I'm surprised at the attitude of the one who visited my client.
  • Phil Wilkes
    Hi Rob.
    Could I meet you for a coffee early next week?
    Phil Wilkes
  • Admin
    Nothing to do with this thread's topic, but a timely moment to point out that there is a direct messaging facility within the Forum, so that any member can contact any other member privately. As administrator I can't read anyone's DMs, but I do get the statistics which suggest this facility is little used at present.

    How to use it? Find the member you wish to contact, then "Send a message".
  • Tania Curtin
    That's an interesting (and sad) experience. It seems to me that he inspector has made a massive generalisation, which in my opinion is not fair, professional, or helpful.

    While I'm a consultant myself, I agree that there are many consultants generating a lot of paperwork and little value, while charging $100+/hr for the privilege... HOWEVER it's not appropriate, nor fair, to make disparaging statements about an entire profession.

    For example, I've recently did some work for a client that would have earned me less than minimum wage. But I did it because I wanted to support their small business and make a difference for them, because although they did not have a big budget, they wanted to do the right thing. So for someone to say all consultants are "expensive" is frankly a bit of a slap in the face.

    Personally, I consider a large part of my role to be educating my clients, and up-skilling them to take control of H&S in their business, rather than relying on me for everything. Many consultants would think I'm mad for giving away easy 'billable hours,' but it's not what I'm about. It offends me that someone in a position of authority would state that consultants don't teach their clients anything.

    And lastly, generally my clients engage me because they don't have the time or expertise to do H&S really well... to discourage businesses from seeking external assistance seems illogical to me. Sure, they could do it all themselves, but maybe it will take ten times longer, not be as robust or based on the most up-to-date knowledge, and maybe it won't get the same results. To me, that's akin to saying, oh you don't need an accountant, you could do all that yourself. Sure.... you could.... but is that the right thing for the business to do? Will that get the best outcomes?

    I only hope this inspector was having a bad day and made a careless remark, rather than this being an indicator of how he/she normally operates. I agree with some of the other comments, on the whole, my experience with inspectors has been largely positive (though not 100% of course, they are only human). Fingers crossed this is an isolated incident.
  • Annalisa
    Hi Jan,
    The unfortunate situation is at times a fabulous H&S consultant provides advice, suggestions as well as overarching guidelines, with the expectation the client may refine & develop (with their expert technical knowledge), and maintain the system. The client can then file it off as their HS system without any further development or maintenance. They've paid money and think "Good 2 Go" If they are not maintaining or refining the system or components of, then potentially a Worksafe Inspector sees a generic underdeveloped system. The Inspector in an instance like this should never disparage the consultants work. Perhaps the inspector is burnt out or over H&S, but I just hope they are able to provide constructive criticism to aid your client to improve rather than put down a H&S practitioner. May the force be with you! Ignore the noise... Best wishes and kind regards, Annalisa.
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    Why dont consultants teach people how to do it themselves?
  • Jan Hall
    EXACTLY how I operate Tania.
  • Jan Hall
    .But you may well ask "why don't health and safety persons in permanent employment teach 'people how to do it themselves'?
    Worker involvement. Is one of every good H&S practitioner's overriding objectives.
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    I have read a few health and safety documents prepared for builders. There is a big pile of papers, The guys say the submit them to sites to meet safety requirements. What is in them I ask. "All that safety stuff".

    I tend to agree with the Worksafe inspector do it yourself. If you cannot get help but do it and learn yourself.

    Then there is the plethora of safety system auditors. Why are there so many doing the same thing?
  • Jan Hall
    Stuart, haha! The man the Worksafe inspector spoke to most emphatically does NOT want to do it himself. He's not a fool, he could do it easily, he knows what I do and it's not what he wants to be spending his time on. Why should he?

    Actually, for big commercial construction sites? "Do it yourself' setting up documents etc, would be far too time consuming. May's well say they can do their own accounting or any of 'their own' specialist writing. Quality for instance.

    Yes, for small builders but not if they're wanting to work for Hospital Boards, Councils or doing work on some of the larger commercial construction sites. I have prepared documents for commercial construction sites, I know what the project managers and main contractors look for; I create working documents my clients can use.

    And I audit to make sure they are creating a record of their safety activities on site. Everyone wants a health and safety policy that nobody wants to write and few ever read! By 'safety system auditors' you mean organisations like Sitewise and Impaq Prequal? Some client organisations want one, some want another. My clients just apply for whatever assessment organisation they're asked to.
  • James Ashby
    Jan Hall,I agree with all of your comments posted thus far we do tend get a bad wrap I personally found this out attending a chambers of commerce H&S meeting ,however I would like to qualify my comments.
    A s a H&S consultant ten years previous initially I fell into the trap providing of the Forrest of H&S paper work Compliance! Compliance! and No follow up
    .However I came to the realization that all this paper work was all a bit to hard - for the clients, all they wanted was the "Keep it simple stupid process" from the Forrest of H&S documents for their business, though it meant less charged time for me.
    I duly adjusted of what was required and relevant.
    But would this approach work?
    .A Work safe inspector who saw one of my clients chainsawing trees in a Public area asked for the required H&S requirements, the client duly complied.The inspector asked who provided this simplified H&S documentation my email address was given - the feed back was very positive with one recommendation.
    I found all the inspectors I have had contact with, very accommodating.I have invited them to inspect a work site of a client, with some minor recommendations.
    "This particular worksafe inspector is shooting fast from the hip"

    It would be fair to say that most business do not realize that there are a lot of free H&S resources can be found online,however the key is navigating Worksafe/ACC Site Safe,Farm safe etc web pages.
    H&S consultants we generally know where to look and what is relevant for a business.

    So now, I like to mentor clients, pointing them to the right areas online for H&S resources applicable for their business,I then like to follow it up with a one visit at no charge,furthermore I can be contacted for assistance and again no charge.
    So the time I charged is far less than previously, however the client is far more engaged with H&S and is satisfied with the service provided
    Therefore with this approach, the referral work has increased.

    My approach NOW! is to get someone in the Business, and help to teach them to understand H&Safety.

    For me "I Like H&S", BUT I am very interested in helping people- I very sure my hard working H&S consultant colleagues would feel the same way>
  • Sheri Greenwell
    Well said, Tania - as always!

    It's interesting to see such a comment coming from WorkSafe NZ just as HASANZ is aiming to bring more formal structure and professionalism into workplace safety....

    As with most things in life, generalisations rarely represent the entire category. Like you, when I am working with a client, I aim to enable them as much as possible to be self-sufficient (like the analogy of giving a man a fish vs teaching them to fish), and I am definitely not receiving exorbitant fees for doing so - and I have the bank statements to show it!

    One of my great frustrations at the moment is that the HASANZ framework is so rigid and relied overly much on holding specific pieces of paper, with little consideration for people like me who have not only been out there actually doing the work and undertaking self-directed learning on an ongoing basis, especially as a specific requirement arises. I also regularly collaborate with and consult with others to check my understanding and delve more deeply into the 'wrinkles'. I have not had time or money to pursue a Post-Graduate Diploma in H&S or a degree, and to be honest, I don't feel I would get much value for the investment of my scarce resources, other than another piece of paper from the HASANZ organisation, which seems to have been set up as a gatekeeper to opportunities and authority in this field. I did achieve NEBOSH IGC with Distinction when an employer made it possible, but this is not considered to be enough evidence of my capabilities.

    Meanwhile, at the same time while HASANZ and NZISM would consider my credentials and experience insufficient to receive their endorsement, I know of several individuals, some of which I have personally worked alongside, who have a PGD H&S and are still very incompetent and unprofessional, yet because they have the requisite piece of paper, they have been recognised as Graduate Members eligible for HASANZ membership. To me, this seems to shoot the very framework in the foot. Yet another example of how a generalisation can fail.

    Clearly, there is still much work to be done.
  • MattD2
    Meanwhile, at the same time while HASANZ and NZISM would consider my credentials and experience insufficient to receive their endorsement, I know of several individuals, some of which I have personally worked alongside, who have a PGD H&S and are still very incompetent and unprofessional, yet because they have the requisite piece of paper, they have been recognised as Graduate Members eligible for HASANZ membership. To me, this seems to shoot the very framework in the foot. Yet another example of how a generalisation can fail.Sheri Greenwell

    Would I be not too far off guessing that the incompetent/unprofessional individual's (that you are referring to) standard practice is to shoehorn their "H&S Management System" onto the client without even the slightest effort to first understand the client's organisation or what makes them unique compare to other (similar / different) companies...
    Interesting that I see some similarities between that approach and how the current HASANZ/NZISM professional registration framework is set up...
  • Sheri Greenwell
    - exactly!! Those people not only think they 'know everything' because they have the certificate that says so; they also have had a linear / binary experience that drives a linear / binary approach, always pushing their own ideas onto others, even at times behaving in ways that can only be described as self-righteous bullying, and very much driven by the need to be 'right' at all costs. They are very disruptive on so many levels - destroying relationships and trust because they don't listen and don't even seem to have much depth of genuine understanding.

    It's highly ironic that HASANZ / NZISM has chosen to put so much weight on formal qualifications as the key criteria for membership. Most training is based on very old and outdates methodologies that are quite out of step with the needs of modern workplaces, 'designed' to push an 'approved' doctrine of 'safety management' rather than leadership, overly focused on 'WHAT' without adequately addressing (or God forbid QUESTIONING whether such perspectives are still relevant or actually meet requirements to take 'all practicable steps' or to genuinely manage risks 'as far as reasonably practical'. Then there's the factor that most training in NZ these days lacks genuine rigour of assessment and verification of genuine competency - i.e.,meaningful verification of more than just a trainee's ability to parrot words and their associated definitions or select the right options from multiple choice answers. What about the ability to critically analyze data and apply concepts? What about the ability to design a system or tool? Even more obscure and more difficult to measure, but possibly most important of all, what about the ability to grasp the intent behind a requirement in such a way that they can explain it in different ways to different groups of people or adapt to suit different organisations in ways that support overall business activities and needs rather than creating a 'silo' system that doesn't align with the rest of the organisation? Most assessments are either designed primarily to enable trainees to achieve a 'pass' mark so training providers can get their money (a significant flaw in the way NZ's NZQA qualifications framework operates).

    In an ideal world, training would be based on sound, proven instructional design practices, starting with an appropriate Learning Needs Analysis that sets out a coherent and meaningful set of competency objectives from which training would be designed, delivered and assessed. Furthermore, for individuals to be genuinely competent and for NZ businesses to be appropriately supported by safety practitioners as professionals, competency frameworks must include meaningful criteria for competency using a recognised instructional design framework such as Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning, and much more thought and consideration must be given to the real work of safety professionals.

    Competency frameworks must recognise that professionalism and effectiveness in workplace health and safety require a much broader range of skills than simply depth of specific technical knowledge (most of which can be readily obtained using resources generally available on the internet), or what is essentially a kind of indoctrination on 'approved' safety ideas. Professionals in every discipline need leadership skills, management skills, communication, the ability to build relationships and coach others to learn and develop (and to get oneself out of the way of other people's learning and development!). Without these, safety will continue to chase its tail and blame everyone else for not following when they never provided meaningful leadership in the first place!
  • Sheri Greenwell
    If you REALLY understand the underlying principles of safety, you will have nothing to resist from first considering the nature of the organisation and its needs, listening to the concerns and needs of workers, and finding solutions that bring it all together.

    Genuine leaders are happy to listen because they understand already what is essential and where they need to end up, and they are not so limited in their perspectives as to think there would be only one way of getting there. Leaders also understand the importance of engaging and consulting without a pre-set agenda, because people are usually quick to pick up on inauthentic dialogue. Although it may be tempting to just push forward with a pre-set agenda, it will ultimately cost you more time and loss of trust, among other things.
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