Comments

  • H&S Committees - Alternative ideas and approaches
    I've found bringing cakes is a good way to re-invigorate flagging engagement.
  • Keeping injured workers in the loop
    Is it the employers job / responsibility to ensure an injured worker is aware of each legal stage and ensure their voice is heard.

    For a start I would imagine the injured person has to be part of the event investigation. That's a very good opportunity for a voice to be heard.

    From there, information gained by the employer would be passed to Legal, at which time it would become privileged.

    And once the matter was before the courts there are limitations on what information can be passed / commented on. Especially as it is likely the injured will be a witness for the prosecution.

    If a person is involved in a legal process I would have thought it was incumbent on them to get their own independent legal advice - and this advice would include what each stage was and what to expect.
  • Drug testing: time to abandon it being limited to safety-sensitive areas only?
    The legal position established by the ERA in 2012 is that a safety sensitive site is = "the exposure to hazards and risks is high, and the consequences of an accident or incident at the site could be catastrophic."

    The case did not specifically apply a definition to a "Safety Sensitive Position", though my interpretation of that case is that it is any position, that poses a higher degree of risk to their own or the safety of others, for the time in which it finds itself in a safety sensitive site.

    It was made clear that a distinction could be drawn (for the purposes of defining "Safety Sensitive") between an office based role possibly on another site with a position that was engaged in a role that that may pose a higher degree of risk to their own or the safety of others

    This, in my view points back to the work site being the thing to note. You could have a person working on a safety sensitive site doing dangerous things and he could be subject to random testing. But if that same person is not doing dangerous things on another non-safety sensitive site, then you can't. Conversely you could have an office based role doing safe things on a safety sensitive site and that person couldn't be subject to random testing.

    That's the broad ruler over which the facts of a particular situation need to be run over.

    As a foot note, I quite like the Canadian Supreme Court who in 2013 ruled you can't do random drug testing (of unionised workers) in a safety sensitive site unless there is either cause ( eg an accident or a person appeared to be under the influence, or as part of a rehab programme) or there is a recognised drug or alcohol problem.
  • Drug testing: time to abandon it being limited to safety-sensitive areas only?
    Thnask Peter
    My nice paper magazine arrived in the mail and being a bit of an old fuddy duddy I've taken an opportunity to read the old media version.

    There were a couple of things in the article I reckon worth more specific comment.

    The authors say "the impact of changing attitudes to health and safety (...) may lead to the courts....". I take from this that where there is a general consensus exhibited through attitude then the courts should be swayed by that consensus. Consensus DOES NOT mean the view is correct. If the courts are to be swayed then they must be swayed only by testable evidence to establish the fact.

    The authors then mention some new test that apparently detects impairment through identifying molecules of THC. I would be looking for something much more robust than that. Where is the evidence that having molecules of THC means a person is impaired from doing the job they are employed to do?

    It is a ludicrous and dangerously long bow to suggest some office bound CFO is in a "Safety sensitive" area when making a safety equipment purchase decision. For a start the manufacturers of that equipment are already required to look at the safety aspects. And the CFO, broadly speaking, is only a signatory - you would hope people skilled in the tasks where the equipment is going to be applied would have been thoroughly consulted before hand. So if aircraft engineers in a safety sensitive area say a piece of equipment is good to go then it does not matter where the CFO signs the purchase order. The nebulous "safety sensitivity" has already been addressed

    We should never ever forget that random testing is without a doubt an invasion of privacy and it is done without suspicion. It is an extraordinarily dangerous precedent that we should be considering managing a person with no just cause. Imagine where it could lead. You could have people in senior positions calling someone a "rapist" with no evidence. Nah. Forget that. That would never happen!
  • Drug testing: time to abandon it being limited to safety-sensitive areas only?
    There is of course another side to this coin Jon.

    On one side the testing roots out the deviants and the good people and potentially removes them from the work environment.

    On the other side of the coin is deviants and good people don't apply for jobs with companies with (random) testing. This isn't a problem at the deviant level - but employers are missing out on many good hires due to this policy.

    The unintended consequences is that the "good" people who do get hired can potentially just be "yes" conformist type people. Who are not necessarily innovators, risk takers or even thinkers - the type of people business needs to flourish.
  • Drug testing: time to abandon it being limited to safety-sensitive areas only?
    I havent read the safeguard article yet - so this may already have been covered.

    The upcoming issue is that we are shifting from an illegal drug environment to a "health" environment - that is, if you smoke dope you have a health problem rather than behaving illegally.

    The moment it becomes a health problem it comes under the Human Rights Act - that is we can't discriminate or disadvantage people on the basis of their health / illness status. Indeed we are required to make reasonable accommodations.

    Dope is going to be like tobacco - so have are we going to separate our Smokers Area so the Tobacco / Vapers arent exposed to dope? (And isn't vaping at work a whole different story)

    Safety Sensitive areas aside the future of random drug testing is likely to be a sunset industry. What we need is the 2021 version of "walking a straight line test"
  • Coronavirus
    Its China, 1.4b people where they are eating live wild animals during the coldest month in the middle of the flu season and 100 have died. Well colour me surprised.

    I'm not so old that I remember the 1918 pandemic but I do clearly remember the Bird Flu and SARS pandemics and the appalling waste of money pumped into those events. And also I am sorry to say the shameful behaviour of those in the safety "professions" who killed forests coming up with polices and procedures in response.

    So I'm going to offer you all you will ever need - for free.
    - Dont fret
    - Wash your hands
    - Cough politely.

    Thats all that needs to be said and all that needs to be done.

    And the truly amazing thing is that this protocol applies to all contagious health issues that we should already be following. (which doesnt stop 500 people in NZ dying of flu each year)
  • toolbox meetings
    No (toolbox meetings, per se, arent a legal requirement)
  • Is Sexual Harassment and Bullying a Hazard? HSE vs HR vs Employment Law

    I think (but am not sure) you are raising a secondary issue.

    And that is - can a complainants behaviour be harassment. The answer is of course "yes" - providing it meets the "harm" definition

    And Chris - very pleased to hear you are getting a Psychologist in for this part of your course. So many people seem to think "Oh my bum was pinched and I'm pissed off and thus sexually abused" constitutes harm for which the perpetrator needs to be hung, drawn and quartered ( or fired from job at least)
  • Communication board
    I come from the old school of "if its not in writing it didn't happen". So verbal comms don't stack up in my book.

    I'm also not a big believer in "innovation". Really, what we do aint rocket science.

    As an example, with our safety advocates meeting we report back, in writing, on:
    - Issue raised
    - person designated to deal with issue and date to be done by.
    - Date issue resolved and comments on how it was resolved.

    It just goes on notice boards. I'd point out the "resolution" might not be what people expect. Sometimes we say "we have done as much as reasonably possible and not going to to do any more"
  • Is Sexual Harassment and Bullying a Hazard? HSE vs HR vs Employment Law
    In my view "repetitively commenting and showing displeasure" does not constitute "harm' and therefore the complainant does not have a leg to stand on.

    Now, if I want to get really technical I can go back and look at the definition of a hazard, and the consequent definition of "harm" which is "cause death, injury, or illness to a person". Or in other words harm that's is identifiable / diagnosable by a qualified medical practitioner.

    Sometimes we have Moaning Minnies and we just need to head them off at the pass.
  • Is Sexual Harassment and Bullying a Hazard? HSE vs HR vs Employment Law
    Rob, be aware a lot of cancerous gossip often ripples out from these situations. Unless one is "intimately" involved outsiders will never get the full story - nor is it their business. The word "victim" is one we need to use cautiously.
  • Is Sexual Harassment and Bullying a Hazard? HSE vs HR vs Employment Law
    Just before christmas I had a complaint from a woman. Apparently another woman was wearing a singlet and revealing far too much flesh and she felt the nearby men folk would become sexually stimulated and that this would then become a problem. Obviously there are a lot of layers to this complaint.

    I am someone who does have "Bullying / Harassment" in my risk register. Seems obvious to me - there is a risk of either physical or mental harm coming from such behavior at work so it needs to be managed. That said, it is considered "low Risk" due to the management steps that are in place.

    This year I have updated the resources and made available to all staff this document from Worksafe "Preventing and responding to bullying at work" - available here: https://worksafe.govt.nz/dmsdocument/782-preventing-and-responding-to-bullying-at-work

    I particularly like it because it has this definition " repeated and unreasonable behavior directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical or psychological harm.".

    The reason I like this definition is that for it to apply there is an extremely good chance there will be evidence - and managing these situations is so much better / easier if it is done on an evidential basis.

    Kudos to Worksafe. I'm too lazy to go reinventing the wheel - I am finding I can just use their new resources as my base material. If its good enough for Worksafe, its good enough for me.
  • Workstation Ergonomics Assessment & Training
    Interesting topic. Anyone remember ANZ? Back in the day every tom dick and harry was getting RSI / OOS. You don't hear so much about it nowadays. Supplanted by stress, now bullying.

    I'm a firm advocate of keeping things simple. Micro pauses and restbreaks. Essentially keep moving. Fancy desks and chairs etc do nothing if you dont keep moving. We are simply not designed to stay static with un-relenting repetitive actions.

    Top tip. Encourage getting up for a glass of water (Can be any liquid of your choice) at regular intervals. Then let nature do its job - the person will be off to the loo in no time. Repeat.
  • How to discourage worksite speeding
    Part of the problem is that "speeding" is a very subjective thing.

    For example, stick a "10kph" speed limit sign up and what does it mean? Cars, for a start, struggle to show 10kph on the speedo. Then how do you know if a person is actually going over "10kph"

    So we ignore our 10kph speed signs (its purely a guide for visitors). We never had speed humps. We don't do tool box talks.

    What we do do, is on Induction people get the message "Don't go faster than 10kph - or about walking pace" That's about it.

    Do we worry about the "10 kph? Part? No. This is just said to give those who like targets something to aim for.

    Do we figure most people understand what "walking pace" is. Yup - its what slow and fast walkers do. And its close enough.

    Does everyone speed? No. So no point making a blanket "rule" to cover the 99% of people who understand what walking pace (or thereabouts) is.

    And where is the "speeding". If its among parked cars its a potential problem. If its by the gates, not so.

    So what do we do with the "speeder". We take them aside and say "pull yah head in - you are going to fast". Now you'll see the advantage of not having a 10kph limit - it stops the litigious argumentative types coming back and saying "what proof do yah have of me going more than 10kph". They might say " I wasn't going fast" - to which our response is "Well you were going faster than Freddy who was walking by at the time. So slow down"

    The person inevitably slows down. And we havent had to take the issue any further. If we did it would inevitably follow a "discipline" process.

    The problem we have most often is with couriers. On those occasions we ring the courier company and tell them to get their drivers to slow down. And this invariably works. On one occasion we had to say if there is no change then we will change couriers - that brought about an immediate improvement.

    Sometimes all you need to do is have a word with the single offender. This afternoon I've got to have a wee chat to a guy who seem to think its OK for him to ride his skateboard on site. No need for a "No Skateboards" rule. Just a quiet word to a twit.
  • Submissions on Proposed Regulatory Changes
    I've written loads of submissions and been in front of a few Select Committees so heres my somewhat cynical view.

    We live in a democracy where the government is required to follow a prescribed process (Bill reading, Submission, Select Committee, Final Bill etc). Sometimes the whole democracy idea gets chucked out the window a Bill gets passed under urgency no submissions required.

    When there is a submission process, this is done simply to give a veneer of "consultation". In reality though you actually have game playing. On one hand you have the Government Departments and their advisors putting their oar in during a drafting stage. Sometimes these people have an idea of what happens outside of Wellington. Sometimes not.

    Then you have the Select Committee which hears the submissions, and the Committee is made up of Members of different parties. All they want to do is point score. Some will take the time to read your Submission but on several occasions I came across Committee Members who hadn't even read the Bill - it was only in meeting with the MP out of the Committee process I was able to highlight some of the aspects of a Bill they clearly wernt aware of.

    So you take these constituent parts and add in work. They don't want to do much - or at least keep their work load to a minimum. So they don't really want lots of submissions. And the best way to avoid receiving Submissions is to either ask for them over holiday periods, or ask for them with very short time frames.

    Then bear in mind the back room deals that are made between the Parties. At the moment Labour will give NZ First something for their support etc etc. Greens wil be tossed the occasional bone. So your Submission will get ignored. Or Labour (for example) has to be seen to be giving something back to its voter base (eg unions) so the Union Submission is the only one that will be taken seriously.

    I"ll give you one working example - Holidays legislation. This is just one huge cluster f#%K of political shenanigans. You would think paying a person for a day off on holiday would be easy. But by listening to a union and ignoring submissions we have ended up with law where no-one (and I mean no-one) can comply. And as a result we probably have in the region of over a $billion in arrears being calculated - and stil no solution.

    Or take the HSWA. Submissions essentially ignored and we just copied, in essence, Australian legislation.

    You and I are just little free wheeling cogs in a large machine. It looks like our submission is important - but in reality its the big cogs that actually connect to something that count.

    Its a fascinating process - but it helps to understand the bigger picture games that are constantly being played.
  • White Island Volcanic Eruption and Dialogue About Risk
    Steve
    A video has been released of visitor walking about an hour before the eruption. They are wearing respirators, hard hats and boots.

    I'll be deferring any further comment until more facts are known. 86tq3i84c9dzylhy.jpg
  • Support for innovation from HR
    I shall apply the adage - step back from the keyboard before hitting the enter key. 'Nuff said!