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

    This year’s State of the Nation survey reveals a much more gloomy outlook than ever before. What do you think has happened to make so many respondents so despondent? How to fix this?

    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 May/June edition, but with no names attached. One randomly selected person will receive a prize, namely a copy of the book Line in the Sand, by Dean Yates.
  • Ian Taylor
    Perhaps the gloom and doom results from the abysmal conduct and performance of the National Government repealing everything but not putting any solutions in place. They appear to be morally corrupt when it comes to smoking, environmental and landlord legislation, sustainability, and those on low incomes or out of work.
  • Andrew
    I'm gloomy because so many things seem to be politicised nowadays. A bit of rational fact based safety discussion would help raise my spirits.
  • James
    To frustrate , I view the majority of the causes on politics! Sorry for the long post too, I see the gloom across all sectors though

    The gloomy outlook revealed in this year's State of the Nation survey is similar across most industries and communities, signaling a perfect storm of factors both within and beyond the workplace. I see the main factors as a mix of poor governmental policies, a weakening global economy, and rapid societal changes through COVID.
    • Infrastructure and Governance: Over the past four decades, a lack of investment in essential infrastructure, combined with political parties prioritizing short-term, high-visibility projects, has led to a fragile infrastructure in dire need of overhaul.
    • Global Instability: Increasing global conflicts and the retreat of major powers from stabilizing roles have disrupted resource supply chains, creating significant economic imbalances.
    • Social and Cultural Shifts: The pandemic-induced shifts to remote working and learning have fostered a culture with minimal consequences for personal actions. This includes paid time off for "possible" sickness, extended breaks during work-from-home setups, and a lack of daily discipline in education, contributing to a generation with minimal personal discipline and respect.

    Proposed Solutions:
    • Policy Focus: Reorient government and council efforts towards core responsibilities, including the maintenance and upgrade of essential infrastructure, to ensure new developments are necessary and sustainable.
    • Economic Stability: Work towards economic stability and manage inflation by reducing spending across all sectors, ensuring that essential services and infrastructure are not compromised.
    • Education and Workforce Development: Increase emphasis on instilling discipline and respectfulness in educational settings, not through punishment but by building routine and personal accountability. This approach aims to bridge the social learning gaps and prepare a resilient workforce.

    In the context of Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS), the challenges are particularly pronounced during economic downturns. EHS teams are often not perceived as profit centers within companies; instead, their contributions are seen as merely cost-neutral at best. However, the real and substantial financial benefits of EHS initiatives are largely hidden. These benefits are realized indirectly through the prevention of costs related to ACC claims, Worksafe penalties, and a broad spectrum of health issues impacting employees both mentally and physically. Additionally, effective EHS practices contribute to reduced staff turnover, increasing employee experience and competence, increasing productivity and efficiency.

    Nevertheless, economic hardships complicate this scenario. As company revenues decline, there tends to be a reduction in Worksafe fines because of companies' decreased ability to pay. Simultaneously, as the job market floods with available workers, the readiness to replace staff who become sick or injured increases. This situation puts higher pressure on Health and Safety to justify their roles and demonstrate their value—not only in maintaining safety standards with reduced resources but also in the company's short-term financial situation.
  • Peter Beaver
    I could only find a summary of some 2023 results. Some 2023 findings might reflect that safety is really hard. Safety appears simple and obvious, but in practice it's not. Maybe people are feeling that.

    In healthcare, safety became a policy priority following the 1999 US report 'To Err is Human,' but 20 years later (despite many small localized successes) there is not much evidence of widespread improvement. There is tension between clinicians, administrators and regulators. The work is intensely pressured and complex - more pressured and more complex all the time - such that harm is inevitable. But it should not be as bad as it is. In the early days patient safety was acknowledged to be hard, but it was also assumed there would be significant progress with the right effort. The outlook now is gloomier.

    Politically, we've gone from a government that lost the plot to one that never had much of a plot. That has an affect. Policies are short-sighted and destructive and the leader isn't inspiring.

    The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic isn't helping. People are more sick more often. I haven't seen NZ data, but last year German workers took 20 sick days each on average (breaking the record set the year before). In the UK, since the beginning of the pandemic, 1.5% of the entire workforce has become newly economically dependent because of long-term sickness (workforce non-participation due to long term sickness was previously steadily decreasing for two whole decades). In the US 6.8% of all adults currently have Long-Covid, and 31% of them claim it significantly impairs their capacity to perform daily activities. Since Omicron was let loose in NZ school absences due to illness/medical have increased by 50%. There's an obvious health and safety problem here that is getting very little attention beyond demands for people to toughen up. The long-term outlook in terms of unwellness and things like brain injury from SARS-CoV-2 (a safety and a competency issue) is very bad because people are losing IQ points and visuo-constructive capacity.
  • Mandy Gudgeon
    My gloomy outlook is derived from the state of our community health system. The 1st port of call and often services that keep people out of our hospitals!!
    As we have seen, GP funding, community services and even hospice palliative care has not been provided with a financial adjustment for over 5 years although nursing staff have been compensated. I do not see a good future for our broken health system.
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