• Peter Bateman
    In the Sept/Oct edition of Safeguard magazine we pose three questions based on stories in the magazine. One of them is this:

    Under the HSW Act, PCBUs operating on the same site must consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other. Do companies understand and apply this better than they did under the previous legislation’s principal/contractor approach?

    Feel free to respond here on the Forum, or privately here via a Survey Monkey form.

    An edited selection of responses will be published in the Nov/Dec edition, but with no names attached. One randomly selected person will receive a prize, namely a copy of Todd Conklin's classic book Pre-Accident Investigations: Better Questions.
  • robert p
    it varies; many are still looking for THE PCBU who has THE PRIMARY DUTY and is therefore liable if things go wrong. Some are trying to figure out the balance between genuine discussion and management of risks with documentation of discussions to prove to 'them' that it was done.
  • John O'Rourke
    Firstly, I thought the third ‘C’ was coordinate? Which can/may have a slightly different connotation to collaboration? (Or am I just being pedantic?)
    And secondly, the three ‘C’s’ did/mostly happen under the principle/contractor approach but the HSW Act makes it more explicit and therefore you would need to be able demonstrate how you carried out each of the three ‘C’s’ if questioned.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    I agree with Robert - many organisation are still looking for someone (someone else!) to have overall primary responsibility, rather than considering that every contractor needs to be part of the overall arrangements.

    It is quite interesting to look at the history of contractor management in NZ's H&S legislation. In the original HSE Act, there were only employers and employees, so a lot of organisations took the apparent loophole and contracted out for hazardous work. So the HSE Amendment Act attempted to close the gap by stating that employers had to look out for contractors the same as for employees, but what seemed to happen was mainly that each party assumed the other party was responsible, so safety often fell into the gaps.

    Then along came HSWA, with nice platitudes with an easy to remember alliteration to make it stick, requiring everyone to "come together and work together nicely". But there isn't a lot of useful information about how that should work in practice, and I think the truth would be that many organisations would struggle to accomplish that degree of communication and collaboration amongst the departments / functions / stakeholders within their own organisations, let alone with external organisations such as contractors.

    I think the reality is that in this situation, as with so many other topics, WorkSafe NZ has set an intention of "what" must be accomplished, but without a roadmap to get there, and also without acknowledging the many very human challenges of making that work at an organisational level when so many individuals would still struggle to be in a position to work together in genuinely collaborative ways. And knowing that WorkSafe would be waiting to pounce on any errors only heightens the desire to push the responsibility into someone else's hands.

    An analogy I often use when discussing this expectation is to look at many intersections where additional lanes appear just before the intersection and then quickly disappear again on the other side - the intention seems to be to get more vehicles through the intersection on a given traffic light cycle, but then the vehicles are just expected to somehow nicely merge on the other side and go along on their merry way. The reality, however, is that a number of vehicles will use those extra lanes to overtake (or more accurately, to undertake) as many vehicles as possible on the inside (left) before squeezing back into the main lane of traffic, seemingly oblivious that they are cutting off other vehicles and disrupting traffic. Other drivers will resolutely avoid allowing any other vehicles to merge in the space in front of them - not sure whether drivers think it's a competition, or that they somehow miss out on something when another vehicle moves in front of them. But they don't really seem to know how to work together and merge smoothly.

    So that is kind of like how this CCC approach seems to go - a good intention that many people either don't understand or don't want to take the time to do, or that they hope someone else will understand it and do it so they don't have to. For this to work, more work is needed.
  • Peter Bateman
    Whoops. My error now fixed.
  • robert p
    I'd suggest that under the principle/contractor model there was a top-down approach rather than a cooperative approach based on who has control and influence - risk by risk. The change to the three Cs is not to create new paperwork but to facilitate new conversations. I reckon...
  • robert p
    Part of encouraging conversations that reduce risk of harm instead of paperwork that folk think will satisfy the hunger of "Worksafe waiting to pounce' is to focus on precisely the intention set (by parliament, not Worksafe) and figure our human way to it rather than cast around for prescription and audit standards.

    I agree it needs more work but not to avoid the negligible chance that we'll be explaining ourselves to WorkSafe but because it just might work to reduce harm.

    To go back to the car analogy it took decades to get almost universal acceptance of wearing a seatbelt.
Add a Comment

Welcome to the Safeguard forum!

If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.