• White Island Volcanic Eruption and Dialogue About Risk
    I'm an entirely logical and sensible rock nut who loves the whole geology of walking through volcanic areas, so find this situation with White Island (and by default any active volcano including Tongariro and Ruapehu) really conflicting...

    Is there a risk that the volcano will blow? Always

    Would I take a tour into the volcano? (or do the crossing/crater walk in the case of the others)
    Yes, and have done because as part of my decision-making process I'm trusting that the guides/gatekeepers have all the information and skills they need to make an informed decision about the risk to me on the day and time I am there.

    In this case I'm also prepared to roll the dice that the once-in-a-thousand day/month/year eruption won't happen during my once-in-a-blue-moon excursion on the exact day and time I'm there. If it does, well, I am comfortable with my decision and let the cards fall where they may. After all, we live on a country that is one of the thinnest parts of the Earths crust.

    Then I was asked "Would I take my kids?"
    Prior to Monday, Without a doubt.

    Now I don't know, Monday was a reality check of devastating proportions. Not because the mountain did anything wrong but because this area is exceptionally volatile and we rely heavily on the knowledge, communication and motivations of the experts around us.

    Something about some of the reported stories reminds me of the failures that led to the Mangatepopo canyoning event. I hope I'm wrong.

    Like I said, still conflicted, and very, very interested in seeing the progression of the investigation into this one.

    My ultimate hope is that while we still find it acceptable to allow 5-year-olds to walk 5 hours across an active volcano in jandals and 30 degree heat, sanity and commonsense will prevail when it comes to our continued access to these unique areas.

    However I suspect Whaakari might be in the naughty corner for a few decades.
  • Availability of good candidates to fill H&S roles

    "I wasn't so much looking for a person that had experience in safety - but more a person who would be a great change agent. Anyone can learn safety skills - but hard to teach someone how to create change and do it with personality ...."

    That right there sums up approx 80% of current HSE/HSW/EHS vacancies. It's not necessarily the health and safety qualification that counts but the bonus material (a background of any other relevant practical experience or qualifications) that comes with your particular package.
  • Near miss reporting
    My 2 cents (no GST)

    Delving a bit more into what Sheri said - Maybe because they don't recognise the near miss as a 'near miss' until it's pointed out to them.

    As the health/safety/wellbeing people 'what could happen' is very much in our culture but it is still severely lacking in most of our teams at the coal face, on the line and up the rank.

    One team I worked with had a bit of a epiphany when we changed the definition of 'near miss' to "[enter favourite expletive] that was close!"

    If they got to say that, then they needed to tell someone about it.
  • Government Website - Hazardous Substances Calculator
    I've used it several times for several different locations and really like it.
    Yes it's 2-D and a little clunky but it accomplishes the paperwork requirements with a minimum of fuss compared with having to build something similar from scratch :)
  • Random Drug Testing
    Maybe if we stop looking at Drug and Alcohol testing as a control per-se and start seeing it as a method of identifying and monitoring risk (as with other health monitoring) the conversations around its use can become less defensive and more productive?

    Happy New Year :)
  • Random Drug Testing
    Random testing does not work in isolation from other controls... it is another control used in conjunction with the hierarchy - which was the other reason it was compared with PPE (even though it's an administrative control). Again the OP was about Random D&A testing not 'What controls do we have in place for workers impaired by Drugs and Alcohol'. That would have been a totally different conversation. ;)
  • Random Drug Testing

    'you could walk down Lambton Quay at lunchtime and the pubs used to be chocker full of workers'. Yep, you could go to any contractor, transport site in the country and there would be the after work beersies. That's one of the reasons the company implemented it so early. Nothing like an 'impaired' truck driver being loaded by an 'impaired' loader driver ;)

    "I would be interested in how you get away with random testing of all staff " - Our policies are loose enough and our teams responsibile enough, to see the benefit of it. It's also in their contracts that anyone can be tested at any time for any reason (I'm paraphrasing).

    "I assume they can't all be working in a safety sensitive work area" - Sorry, but you're assumption is incorrect. Aside from the fact that our guys and girls work under the High Hazards unit, they are also operating multiple items of fixed and mobile plant in a variety of conditions. All failures on our site have the potential to be catastrophic.

    It's compared to PPE because it won't stop the damage if something goes wrong (a hard hat is not particularly helpful against a 50T boulder, a collision between vehicles is damaging whether drivers are impaired or not). However the potential for both (PPE and testing) to be used to prevent the event happening is what counts.

    Agreed - our 'random testing' is a nuclear threat - but if the threat of getting caught is what it takes for a team member to not have that final beer/bourbon/toke on a Sunday, so they are fit for work on Monday morning and able to stop the loader before it hits the pedestrian, who cares what anyone thinks of it?

    I could go on about other forms of impairment, but the OP was about D&A testing so I've stuck with that.

    (there endeth today's blog post - sorry)

  • Random Drug Testing
    We have zero tolerence for D & A for all staff and random testing for these and have done for the last 30 years. Ironically our zero-tolerence stand was laughed at by our legal team at the time - lol.

    The difference with our random testing is that the van comes on any site randomly and all operations staff on site at the time are tested. Only one person ever knows when this will happen. It's like wearing PPE - a last chance control, rather than a sole prevention method.

    We only do ops staff because they are the most exposed to critical risks and do not have the physical buffer to protect others from impaired decision-making that our administrative decision makers do.

    Other than that, on the whole, potential D & A influence is treated no differently to fatigue, emotional distress, illness or anything else which impairs the ability of staff to make decisions and undertake their work safely. It is evidenced, then dealt with. That said, we are lucky that we have tight crews who look out for each other and managers who also have the respect and trust of their teams, which makes life a whole lot easier.
  • Mythbusters - NZ version
    Quick diary entries and whiteboard messages are also very handy when needed :)
  • Pocket-sized information to help workers with Risk Assessments (or similar)
    The biggest benefit was that it took the fear away when approaching someone carrying out a task that looked unsafe but the viewer didn't have the level of skill to be sure and didn't want to look foolish.
    That would be so helpful! Approaching others is such a huge hurdle even when you know your stuff, it's almost impossible when you don't know what good (or bad) looks like :)
    (Am totally stealing this adding this idea to the toolkit)
  • Pocket-sized information to help workers with Risk Assessments (or similar)
    Don't know if this helps, but it's about connecting information with people and tasks right?

    if you think of the crew as learners and then work out how they like to learn, what they like to learn about and how to make the risk management process relevant to them (and not a completely separate subject/planet), the rest will come.

    We started with notebooks a few years ago which have a basic matrix in them, but although they are still used occasionally, we still have a few boxfuls of unused ones in a cupboard somewhere. We also have the risk management process and matrix on a couple of A3 sheets around the sites. But in all honesty, although great as a tool for describing a process, they've been almost useless as a way of preventing incidents.

    We've found moving to 'everyday risk management' far more useful - it works much the same way as 'everyday leadership'.

    There is very little formal risk management 'training', but it happens very often and in a variety of ways. Some of it is scheduled but most is unscheduled and all is with a consistant message "What could happen?".

    It might be asking someone a question about the job they are doing as I (or a manager) pass them, getting the crew together to do a quick scenario, talking through one thing properly at a toolbox meeting or checking an isolation process, etc so the team are constantly 'doing' risk management.

    Ironically, if you asked most of the team "what is the risk management process?" or "did you do a Take 5" they wouldn't be able to tell you using the 'right' words, and if you asked them how much risk management training they'd had they probably also shrug and say "none lately".

    But if you asked them what the dangers were in the job they do, they would not hesitate to tell you everything that could go wrong and what they do about it so it doesn't go wrong.

    As I said, don't know if it helps or if I'm off-base with what you were after, but that has been our experience. Oh and only the formal training is documented ;)

  • H&S Management Software Query
    One thing to add on HSMS software.

    Any software is basically a collation tool for information. The key is to make sure the information is purposeful.

    The information you get out will equal the information you put in.This means you need to be very clear about what you expect it to do and how it will help in the big picture.

    From there you can work it back to the inputs you need to get that outcome.

    A lot of systems also have functions that you wont use, or involve so much data-entry they are just too inefficient to use, and sometimes you will still need to supplement the useful modules with the good old excel spread sheets. But trial trial trial... until you find one that suits your needs and helps you make your work environment a better place.

  • H&S Management Software Query
    There was nothing that we didn't like about it as a system, but it wasn't fit for purpose for our operation when compared with some of the other options. I've sent a PM with a couple of specifics :)
  • Price of AS/NZS Standards
    I used to get annoyed at the cost of standards, especially when businesses are supposed to use them as the 'standard' for their operations but then I looked at it from a practical view.

    If I have a query about say, how to guard a piece of plant, is it easier and more productive to;
    a) Google specific guarding - in which case 9/10 times a WorkSafe Fact sheet, ACOP or guideline will appear and I can get on with the job, or
    b) Ring the relevant WorkSafe inspector and ask them for advice, or
    c) Read through and try to interpret the set of approximately 22 standards relating to machine guarding and then find out that there was an update somewhere along the line that I missed...

    As is often discussed on here: paper is no use if it can't be used purposefully.

  • H&S Management Software Query
    Just another one to add to the list;

    We moved from Mango to Safety Manager Pro (found at and after trialling Peoplesafe and Vault.

  • Signing For Attendance At Toolbox Meetings
    Could a focus on documenting who was present at a toolbox meeting be regarded as "safety clutter"?

    Yep. And in a perfect world we wouldn't need it. Unfortunately the world isn't perfect, we are all a work in progress and you do need to have that evidence so all duty holders can say, 'we tried our best' and have some sort of evidence to back that claim up.
  • Signing For Attendance At Toolbox Meetings
    Yeah... pretty irrefutable as evidence they were there. The tricky part is evidencing whether they participated or understood, but it does take a bit of heat off the managers. :)
  • Signing For Attendance At Toolbox Meetings
    We have a system where a representative of the group (chosen at random but who was at the meeting) signs the minutes as being a true and accurate record of what was covered and people in attendance. It is then counter-signed by the person who took the meeting.

    If it's a toolbox meeting with a PD session tacked onto the end of it then there will also usually be a photo of the group which has come in handy. :)
  • Training Day
    What industry are you in? I only ask because you've listed Mines Rescue and from what I've seen over the last three years of 'transition' the extractives industry is really starting to get this training thing right.

    Yes it helps that all our certified quarry managers have to have annual CPD (by law), but also organisations such as WorkSafe, MinEx, the IoQ, AQA and corporate sponsors have taken the lead and organised the days, so much of the training is not only free but also really, really well planned and enjoyable.

    Now that the teams have been to a few training days they can see the real value in them. Our company also requires those who attend training sessions to briefly share what they learned to the team at the next toolbox meeting and reports are done for the board.

    This lifts the level of conversation at all duty holder level. -> greater engagement -> less resistance to training -> etc