• Why should workers care about Accreditation?
    I agree there is a place for records - a very important one, but only worth the integrity of the processes they represent. Paper alone achieves very little, but smart paper trails can be invaluable.
  • Why should workers care about Accreditation?
    In the old days, the assumption was made that written documents constituted 'proof'. A signed document was evidence that someone had given their word. This the auditor's mantra was born: "If it's not written down, it didn't happen.' In different times, where one's honour was more highly valued, few would have taken into consideration the potential for documents to be forged.

    After years and years and years of this practice, few have questioned its validity, despite the temptations and many known examples of documents being forged, or so many signatures being required that the intended meaning behind putting one's signature to something is often lost.

    In addition, the written documents and signatures provided a means of concrete communication in hierarchical organisations that relied largely on their chain of command to communicate amongst the ranks.

    In the digital age, most management systems have just automatically carried their hard copy systems over to a digital version, without giving much thought to effectiveness, efficiency, validity, etc. Those old habits are really hard to give up.

    In addition, when the key focus becomes accreditation rather than effectiveness and reliability, many organisations (and unfortunately too many so-called consultants) rely too heavily on an accreditation standard, using it as a template - which it is not designed to be, often resulting in ill-fitting solutions - instead of as a checklist, which should prompt the organisation to carefully consider what it needs and how best to provide it for their particular circumstances.

    Strictly parroting an accreditation framework or standard is a lazy approach that gives a false sense of assurance and often creates unneccessary bureaucracy, inefficiencies as well as a lot of frustration and friction. Casting the organisation's management system rigidly in terms of the standard may make it easy for the auditor, but it often does not serve the organisation itself as well as it might.

    I like to say, "The auditor doesn't live here, but YOU do!" You can always create a navigation resource for the auditor and still develop and implement appropriately compliane systems that best serve your organisation - you just have to understand the purpose of each requirement and do some consulting and consideration for your own organisation to achieve systems that work. And then the documents should capture what you actually do at work - ie get the processes sorted out, then document them. The documents are not the star of the show - the actual ways you do the work is what matters.

    There is work to be done..... we could do this so much more effectively and efficiently.

    OK - I will hop down from my soapbox now. :-)
  • Employee input and representation without having a meeting
    We will continue to have safety meetings, especially as we are an essential business that is continuing to operate. Our agenda will be mainly about COVID-19 actions and activities, as well as an opportunity to check in how people are going.

    We have implemented an agenda that uses a checklist kind of template, which we fill in before the meeting. Every agenda item is assigned to a person who will be tabling it and an estimate of time allocated for that topic. Our agreement is always that if something requires additional time, the committee can determine amongst the people present whether they want to continue on that topic and extend the meeting time accordingly, continue on that topic and drop something else from the agenda, or schedule a separate meeting for that specific topic. That way we don't hold people hostage and we keep meetings on track for their allocated times.
  • Impact of pandemic on your H&S practice
    Playing an active role in business continuity / crisis management team as well as sub-set team for communications. The NZ side of the business was already preparing and had ordered supplies in modest quantities. Australia is much more complex and still only had one HR person for the whole country and one person in logistics to manage safety, so our NZ team started collaborating with AU team to share resources and ideas and help each other.

    I have found myself the main COVID-19 researcher and provider of information and resources. I have been providing a lot more support to the HR manager, who has had to work through all the ER requirements. I've been creating everything from training materials, to COVID-19 health information, restricted access signs, posters, procedures. Communications to employees. Working closely with operational managers to verify site hygiene and distancing requirements (which is taking a lot of time to determine, communicate, implement and monitor). Fortunately most of the management team are very committed and very solutions oriented, so they offer ideas and help each other.

    My current employer is considered an essential business, so it's really important to keep our workers safe and working. Although many managers could work from home, we prefer to be present, visible and available for employees who have no choice to work remotely. But yesterday we started seeing healthy employees coming to work wearing masks, despite expert advice against it. It was clear people were starting to feel frightened, so I spent some time listening to their concerns and reasons for choosing to wear masks.The trouble is that when other employees started seeing other people wearing masks, they started to become more anxious. One tearful employee explained to me that her trip to the supermarket the previous evening had just set her off - the sight of all those people wearing masks and queueing to enter the supermarket, etc. So we had a conversation that allowed her to safely 'download' some of her anxiety so she could carry on (she is in the office again today, so I consider that a win!).

    One of the biggest challenges is trying to manage individuals who are anxiously trying to figure out EVERYTHING right now, when the only thing we can really do is to focus on the present moment and get through that.
  • Awards deadline extended to 8 April
    Thank you Peter - stay safe and well.
  • National to promise 'common-sense' legal test for workplace safety rules
    I have been watching with interest as the HR people try to grapple with safety requirements and expectations for people working from home as they prepare for COVID-19 response.....what a minefield!!
  • Docu-Dramas
    Investigation of the Three Mile Island incident revealed some very interesting learnings, too.
  • Safety Policy Statements - you are committed to what?
    It also doesn't help that so few executives truly understand risk or know where to start when writing policies and prefer to avoid having to think about it (especially when so many of their compliance people think and communicate in jargon-laden detail rather than high level concepts and principles) - thus the tendency to copy and paste.
  • Docu-Dramas
    Air Crash Investigation is also one of my favourites, not least because they have such great examples of thorough investigation that goes way beyond the superficial levels. I also used to enjoy Seconds From Disaster, which has a similar theme of understanding the contributing factors. I used to watch both on National Geographic channel when I had Sky TV, but I don't have it any more.

    Like you @Rachel, I am always on the lookout for documentaries that detail the contributing factors, especially when they highlight all the 'human' elements of people's values, decision-making strategies, personal agendas, biases, assumptions, and all those less obvious psychological factors.
  • Safety Policy Statements - you are committed to what?
    The very fact that so many of these policy statements are all so much alike speaks to the tendency of auditors to focus overly much on a rigid checklist of what is required to be mentioned.
  • Safety Policy Statements - you are committed to what?
    It doesn't help when everyone just meekly accepts the requirement without questioning the purpose or usefulness, and nobody wants to take the risk of failing an audit. And one of the biggest root causes of the failure of the ACC WSMP accreditation system was the unconscious collusion of auditors and auditees to focus overly much on management systems documentation rather than what was happening in the real world.
  • Coronavirus
    It's been interesting - the CEO asked me to prepare a travel advisory to tell people they didn't have to do any overseas travel if they did not feel safe, and that the company would pay for medical assessment / clearance when they return. But this is already so full of holes and unknowns! For one thing, there is no point in having a medical clearance to return to work straight away when the incubation period is 9-14 days.

    Next, I keep being asked to prepare protocols and information for people on sites, especially where there is a reasonable amount of contact with the public. Since I don't have any particular training in pandemic prevention and related topics, I can only Google and provide information to the best of my ability. Since there are so many unknowns, most of the information is vague and very generic. The most reliable information is the advice to wash hands frequently, use alcohol-based hand sanitiser, practice good hygiene for coughing and sneezing, and stay home if you feel unwell.

    I have read a number of articles online that say masks don't provide much protection for healthy people in non-healthcare situations. A mask may help to minimise the spread of germs if a person is sick and is coughing or sneezing, although to be very effective the mask needs to be fitted / worn correctly at all times, made of the right type of filter material, must be disposed of safely in a covered rubbish bin, washing hands after use. They also won't protect the wearer if they touch their mouth, nose or eyes while using the mask. So again, it's back to hand hygiene as your best defence.

    We are ordering hand sanitiser, gloves and surface sanitiser wipes to send to all sites with some posters about hand washing and general guidelines for preventing infection from spreading.

    I am really being hounded by all the detailed questions from various people who are looking for certainty when we really don't have very much certain to go on!
  • Engineering control to eliminate mobile phone use in vehicles?
    What would happen if you were using Waze or Google Maps to navigate? Waze already has a safety feature that doesn't let you type in the app when you are moving.

    Having said that, I don't text while I am driving and I usually let calls go to voicemail, only answering if it's important / urgent and my phone is safely in the hands-free holder.
  • What Leads Professionals to Compromise on Their Ethics? - interesting article from MyOSH
    Your Dutch heritage could be a factor in your ability to be forthright and stand's one of the qualities I cherish most in my Dutch partner! ;-)

    There are many psychosocial factors that can subtly influence safety practitioner behaviours. Given that so many NZers tend to be conflict-averse, and that many organisations are less than deliberate when selecting the safety advisor - I have personally seen examples where an organisation appointed the 'problem' guy they don't know what else to do with, or the lowest price hiring option, or someone who would just do what the manager wants (i.e., a handy scapegoat).

    One of the things that stood out to me from the whole Pike River saga was that people knew there were critical safety issues, and they had informed management, but everyone continued to operate. Neville Rockhouse was the H&S and Training Manager there, and I know he was on the verge of becoming president of INSHPO at the time of the fatal explosion, so he was a very experienced and well-established safety professional. Even so, he lost one son, nearly lost another son, and pretty much put an end to his safety career. Should he have done more to stop operations that fateful day? I'm sure he asks himself that question every day.

    One of the things I have observed in many workplaces over many years is that most people are afraid of 'getting into trouble' and losing their jobs, because most have families, mortgage and other financial obligations. This pressure can sometimes be alleviated if the safety practitioner reports directly to the CEO and has strong organisational understanding and support, but NZ still has a long way to go on this, especially while CEOs and operational personnel are increasingly squeezed for profit and productivity.

    Personally, I would walk away rather than be dragged into unethical behaviours or giving my blessing to unsafe practices. I have experienced a personal financial crisis where I had $24, no work and a single mother with a young child to look after. After working through my initial emotions and feelings of shame and failure, I eventually realised what a gift that experience was, because I KNOW that I can get through such a crisis, that there are resources and support out there, and that I never have to compromise myself and my own values. I have often said I would not want to have to do it again, but I am glad it happened - I now know how resourceful I am and what is possible, so no one will ever be able to force me into doing something that my conscience does not agree with. We always have to live with ourselves, so every decision should be something we can live with.
  • Hazard vs Risk Video
    - Hi Alana - would you also share your shark analogy image with me?

    Thank you!
  • Keeping injured workers in the loop
    I have shared the link for this discussion with my friend Joerg Schmidt-Hilger, who lives in Pinneberg, about 40km from Hamburg. Joerg's son Malte was barely 21 when a completely preventable workplace accident resulted in a fatal head injury.

    I am hoping he will visit the forum and share his own perspectives - not only the profound effect on his home, family, and community, but also the ongoing frustrations Joerg and his wife Christina face in trying to hold the employer appropriately accountable for the poor safety management practices that led to the incident. The forklift driver whose actions led directly to the incident has been fined, but the bereaved parents recognise that it is actually the employer who was at fault for not providing safety management processes for a safe workplace. The company has refused to communicate with them and has been completely unsupportive of their needs, while the German government is unable to enforce any actions or even an appropriate investigation. After more than two years of campaigning, the German regulators have FINALLY agreed to conduct and investigation.

    Determined that their loss should not be repeated in other families, Joerg and Christina have been actively reaching out to other parents whose children have died in workplace incidents, aiming to work together to put pressure on the German government to do more to protect workers as well as ensuring when a fatality occurs that the incident is thoroughly investigated so the family can understand what happened, and that employers treat families with appropriate dignity and respect.

    Articles from the local news about dealing with their court experiences attached - unfortunately only in German. These only inform about the public, legal process, not the private pain and loss.

    FYI - here is the article I wrote last year on what would have been Malte's 23rd birthday.
    PT+EN 2018_11_17 (358K)
    PZ 2018_11_17 (75K)
  • Business Case_Safety Position
    One more thought.....consider starting with a meaningful, well-formed higher level goal that an additional safety resource will allow you to achieve, and build the case from there so that the additional resource is part of the means to the goal rather than the aim. That approach might get more buy-in.
    DecisionTool (36K)