Getting down to business: Adjusting to the health and safety reforms one year on

Last year saw many Kiwi businesses up their game with the introduction of the Government’s Health and Safety Reform Bill that came into effect on 4 April, 2016. 

The new rules shifted the focus from monitoring and recording health and safety incidents, to proactively identifying and managing risks to ensure a higher level of safety.

Following on from the introduction of this legislation, our 2017 Health and Safety Leadership Survey called Walking the Talk was a good reflection on how 169 CEOs and Managing Directors are doing, one year on.

Survey results showed that 4 out of 5 leaders believe their health and safety performance improved in 2016, and more than half surveyed said that investing in health and safety has boosted productivity.

In spite of this data, the survey also revealed identified that developing a culture where health and safety is top of mind, was the biggest challenge for business but less effort has gone into improving it.

What does this mean for a fast-growing business? Meet Southbase Construction.. 

This construction management company based in Christchurch, ranked 31 on our 2016 Fast 50 Index with 296.84% growth. They are a key player in the Christchurch rebuild efforts and undertook the design, construction and fit out for our iconic Deloitte offices on Cambridge Terrace in the CBD.

When it comes to health and safety, Southbase Construction aims to be ‘outside the box’ with construction techniques but very much ‘inside the box’ when complying with regulations.

Health, Safety and Environment Manager, Ken Rees, said the business had a relatively smooth transition into the new legislation as their management systems had proactively been designed to meet the new requirements.

Ken says,"we were able to front foot many of the changes required. But as a result, we initiated a change away from the common lag indicator reporting, to focus on proactive prevention and critical risk management. We also reviewed our processes to meet our increased duty to communicate, consult and coordinate works, which is crucial when we have multiple trades working at a site."

He adds that they’re always look to enhance their safety in design and BIM (Building Information Modelling) processes, as well as aiding and assisting their supply chain in this process, to help them better plan and record their work.

Complacency is something that Southbase Construction is well aware of and management has taken a proactive response to.

“We constantly review our planning and controls for construction works. We are conscious that we have the primary 'person conducting a business or an undertaking' (PCBU) on our projects and we have a duty of care owing to our supply chain, stakeholders and public," says Ken.

“A typical site has multiple PCBU operating in relatively constrained areas, so ensuring operation planning such as task analysis or permits to work processes are established, reviewed, approved and affected parties consulted, is critical to safe operations.”

Tips on developing a health and safety culture in your business 

According to the survey recommendations, good health and safety performance can only be achieved if your whole team is on board. Site visits by CEOs and directors can be useful in engaging staff, but the usefulness of a site visit will largely depend on how well prepared you are and what sorts of questions you ask. Instead of asking questions aimed at finding out what has gone wrong, try asking questions about what happens on an ordinary day. This is a much less threatening way to get people to tell you what’s hindering good performance and what supports it.

Ask questions like:

  • What day last month was work (performance) the best? What happened that day?

  • Tell me about a time when your work was difficult?

  • Who of your colleagues do you find impressive? What is it that they do?

  • What are you most dependent on to be successful in your work? What happens when that resource isn’t available?

  • If you had $50,000 to make this a better place to work, how would you invest it?

Follow up on your interactions and observations. Hold management and yourself accountable to ensure that issues are addressed in a timely fashion. With front line workers, seeing action is the key in being able to demonstrate your commitment.

05 May, 2017 by Emily McLean,

Emily McLean

Emily McLean

Emily McLean works in the Deloitte marketing team and closely with Deloitte Private. She loves telling the stories of those individuals and businesses leaving their mark in New Zealand's SME space while delivering news and insights to help business owners grow their companies. 

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