• Road safety: fix the driver vs fix the driving environment
    Blaming tourists for crashes is often making them a convenient to avoid having to look at ourselves.

    The South Island has its own challenges in having to navigate over long, often winding stretches of roads where drivers might not see another car for quite some distance, leading to complacency and inattention. When I lived in Methven (Mid-Canterbury) many years ago, I can recall one summer day when there was a crash at an uncontrolled intersection in the residential section of the sleepy little town (at least it's quiet when it isn't ski season!), and when they investigated, they found that both drivers simply 'didn't expect any other cars to be there'. Neither had even checked before entering the intersection, so both were profoundly surprised to find themselves colliding with another vehicle.

    I also met many drivers in the South Island who had learned by driving farm vehicles, with very little (typically none at all!) instruction or supervision. So they often had very little idea of defensive driving or road safety principles.

    At the same time, many roads throughout NZ - I see them all the time here in Auckland - have not been designed with safety in mind. Many roads are designed in ways that actually encourage poor driving habits and unsafe behaviours. Timed transit lanes might aim to keep traffic flowing in peak times, but they have to be policed for this to be effective. In addition, the way these lanes are allocated only during peak times means parked cars are allowed to park in a lane of a busy road, where vehicles may be driving along in that lane only to suddenly find themselves approaching a parked vehicle in front of them and having to suddenly take evasive action - this often happens along Gillies Avenue in Epsom, for example - there is a slight rise where you can't see very far ahead, and it is quite reasonable to expect to be able to just proceed in that lane. I can think of several other busy roads that operate with the same set of conditions, and I am surprised there are not more accidents.

    Another source of confusion and increased risk is the inclination to add additional lanes as you approach an intersection, then at the other side the extra lanes very quickly disappear, leaving vehicles to merge. At busy intersections, this just leads to competitive driving to get ahead of as many other vehicles as possible, with long, slow queues building along with a head of steam with frustrated drivers.

    I have been told in the past that changes are only undertaken by NZTA after a certain number of fatalities or factors such as a dramatic increase in traffic volumes, due to the costs of making changes, so NZTA could also do a lot more to get on board - stop making decisions with financial outlay as the only consideration or the most important factor, and start thinking a little further ahead. Safer road design is really the best solution.
  • Is Sexual Harassment and Bullying a Hazard? HSE vs HR vs Employment Law
    This thread epitomizes a key point that challenges every organisation, whether from the HR perspective or the H&S perspective - human nature and the myriad factors that influence human behaviour. What might be perfectly acceptable within one group of people might not fit so easily in another context. Some people are flexible and adaptable, while others think the world should march to their own tune. The vast extent of variability is probably the biggest reason HR and Safety have largely tiptoed around human behaviour for so long and focused much more on concrete and more defined elements such as management systems, equipment and machinery, buildings, etc. Even trying to adopt a strictly politically correct culture will ultimately fail to deliver all things to all people at all times, and it also does nothing to teach resilience and self-determination.
  • Who should be included in H&S committee meetings?
    A linked committee structure would be great for a larger organisation - a rep from each committee would also attend the committee / management meeting at the next level, acting as the two-way interface between both. Goodman Fielder used to use this model to ensure there was a clear, unbroken line of communication throughout the organisation, making it easy to escalate an issue or cascade information, as appropriate.
  • workplace carpark - reversing into the space, forwards out
    It occurred to me while reversing into a parking space today that doing so would also make it much easier to use jumper cables if required.
  • Worksafe Inspector Disparaging Health and Safety Consultants
    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.
  • Worksafe Inspector Disparaging Health and Safety Consultants
    - 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!
  • Worksafe Inspector Disparaging Health and Safety Consultants
    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.
  • The Difference Between Signed & Understanding & "What's The Point"?
    A rigid requirement to sign minutes looks very much like an attempt by the company to cover their own butts, and employees can see that a mile away. This does not contribute to building trust - in fact quite the opposite, and it's likely to be an ongoing downward spiral unless managers start acting more like LEADERS and change the dynamics. Trust is the foundation for everything else, and leaders have to start the ball rolling. Building trust takes time and it has to be earned - you can't demand it, and you can't force it.

    It sounds like time for managers to step back and do some deep soul-searching.

    Here's a somewhat related story - some common themes:
  • Frivolous Friday
    Here's an interesting story where an employer introduced a facial recognition programme under the guise of 'health and safety', without appropriate engagement or consultation, and with the underlying agenda to crack down on cheating on time sheets. The employer fired a worker who refused the facial recognition scan when the employer could / would not answer questions about how it was used, how it actually linked with safety on site, and what was going to be done with the data.
  • Submissions on Proposed Regulatory Changes
    I can well imagine that there are probably many submissions that are based more on opinions, emotions and personal perspectives than those based on objective facts to support a position. That must be very tedious to try to wade through.

    Since 2000, I have usually worked with a small, committed group of people to go through the proposed legislation, prepare comments and make submissions. We have made quite an effort to leverage our collective knowledge, skills and experience in order to make meaningful submissions. It's quite disappointing to have these disregarded by regulatory agencies and personnel who cannot be bothered to read and consider with similar commitment.

    All the same, I aim to do whatever I can to ensure I am appropriately informed and understand the issues. I can't control what they do with my submission, but I also live by the maxim that 'Silence implies consent." We really don't have justification to complain if we have not spoken up. I remember when the Health and Safety Reform Bill Discussion Document was issued, and members of NZISM met to hear from a legal expert what the issues were. The lawyer asked the group (probably about 40 people) who had actually read all or part of that voluminous document, and only 4 of us raised our hands! Yet this legal framework was going to be a key influence on the direction, activities and expectations of our profession!

    I know people are busy with their jobs, but we all have the same amount of time every day; it's all about what you value enough to prioritize it. When we were reviewing the MBIE Discussion Documents, the people in our group were all very busy with their jobs during the day, so I invited them to come to my house one evening per week, working through one chapter each week for five weeks. We sat at my dining room table and worked solidly for about 1 1/2 hours, then we would have a cup of tea and some of my baking as we wrapped things up. At the end of our process, we had each made an individual submission as well as a group submission, which we copied to Responsible Care NZ as well. My key point here is that we were all committed enough to make it happen.

    In addition, the collaborative approach adds immense value because the group discussions and contributions from a greater variety of individual perspectives and experience mean that each person finishes up understanding existing and proposed frameworks far more comprehensively - including what they ARE and what they ARE NOT, which equips us to manage and lead much more effectively.

    In addition, the collaborative group approach has also given us the opportunity to share the load so it is easier to get through it. When changes to the Hazardous Substances Regulations were proposed more recently, one of the group members invited us to join her at her workplace for discussions. We agreed to divide up the regulations amongst members, with different people taking responsibility for the various parts of the regulations. At that time, I was least directly involved in handling hazardous substances, so I offered to take minutes of all our discussions, thus involving myself more deeply with the dialogue. The minutes were then available to each member of the group so they could develop their own individual submissions as well as having the notes for future reference in their own business.

    Meanwhile, I live in hope that we won't have to keep running into metaphorical brick walls with ineffective / inappropriate regulatory frameworks, and that one day someone is going to listen a little more carefully to suggestions, rather than just waiting until the political pressure that develops from a disaster spurs them into action!

    I was pleasantly surprised to see WorkSafe / MBIE taking the initiative and using a world café type approach last year, where they presented the context, then operated 3 short sessions with small groups around tables, each table with a specific theme to explore. Each table was attended by a representative of WorkSafe or MBIE, who collated comments, summed them up and presented them back at the end of the interactive session, then was charged with taking those comments back to the office to include in their considerations. It was a big step in the right direction in terms of achieving meaningful feedback, getting people involved, and supporting people to understand more of the regulatory requirements.
  • Submissions on Proposed Regulatory Changes
    Thanks, Andrew - you confirmed everything I had suspected! So maybe these issues such as not actually reading documents and submissions are not confined to just the US GOP.....
  • White Island Volcanic Eruption and Dialogue About Risk
    Well said, and definitely if our minds and ears are closed from the start, our opportunity to learn and improve will be limited.

    With such a significant event and under worldwide media scrutiny, I can well imagine that there will be a lot of people aiming to deflect any possibilities of being blamed, but defensiveness right now would be such a barrier to really understanding and learning how best to minimize the impact, and potentially for tour operators to be able to resume tours more safely.
  • White Island Volcanic Eruption and Dialogue About Risk
    "In the fullness of time I believe we'll get some direction as to where we will go as operators and individuals, but right now, our thoughts are in other places." - Tim Barrow, Volcanic Air Safari director and chief pilot
  • White Island Volcanic Eruption and Dialogue About Risk
    "If you don't take a risk you don't get anywhere." - pilot Mark Law on making recovery flights

    Recovery plan under way as volcanic ash threatens to entomb bodies on Whakaari/White Island
  • SDS - is this crap advice on the specific types of PPE needed even legal?
    Yes - your comment really highlights the most important point: users need to conduct their own risk assessment and determine what is appropriate.

    I can well imagine with all the heavy-handed threats of prosecution if an injury incident occurs, it's common for people preparing SDSs and those managing the SDSs at the user end to default to 'err on the side of caution' and just assume the highest level of controls for constituent materials.

    One of the things that is most ironic about HSWA's approach to holding people and businesses more personally accountable for safety is that their use of fear tactics often takes them further off track and discourages them from doing their own thinking, which is ultimately counter-productive to genuine and effective workplace safety management.
  • White Island Volcanic Eruption and Dialogue About Risk
    Some more relevant stories about this event (keeping in mind that everyone is now likely to either be in the camp of '20/20 hindsight' or throwing up their hands in exasperation over a force of nature they could not be expected to control).......
  • SDS - is this crap advice on the specific types of PPE needed even legal?
    Exactly. And I would suggest that SDSs produced in such a way would actually not meet the legal requirements and could potentially be a breach of the regulations because they don't accurately represent the hazards of the actual substance.

    I recall when I used to deliver training about the HSNO that there was among the penalties a provision for fines that could apply if a substance was labelled or otherwise identified as hazardous when it was not, and the example we used to discuss is when a substance was transported with labeling and signage that indicated it was more hazardous that it actually was. Is that your understanding as well?

    The difficulty with SDSs is that there is currently very little meaningful policing of the quality of information. When I worked with chemicals in the past, many were sourced from China, and those often were accompanied by the barest skeleton of information, rarely anything close to the ISO standard format, and often little more than the technical data sheet, which is more like a product specification, without safety information for handling, storage, use and disposal.

    It would be interesting to find out how much review and vetting is done by organisations that provide hazardous substances information for emergencies - e.g., Chemwatch. Even so, these service providers are often not used by smaller companies who may be in a position of 'you don't know what you don't know'.
  • Elf on the Shelf
    Or Elf decides to manage a hazard by substitution, so they engage a contractor to do the work instead of their own employee.
  • SDS - is this crap advice on the specific types of PPE needed even legal?
    - yes! And nearly as bad are those SDSs that warn of all sorts of possible risks that don't relate to the product at all - especially when they are based on the hazardous properties of the pure ingredient that might be present in only very diluted form or as a possible trace contaminant!

    That probably happens either when people don't really understand the hazards information, or forget the intent of that section of information, and / or just can't be bothered to think it through and figure out what is needed.