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National Health & Safety Awards

KiwiRail took out the supreme award at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards 2009 held recently.

The awards, in their fifth year, are organised by Safeguard magazine and supported by the Department of Labour.

KiwiRail impressed the judges with its commitment to measure its own safety culture by engaging an outside facilitator to conduct confidential focus groups involving staff.

This sophisticated project generated an impressive list of roadblocks to better health and safety, but also ways to overcome them. More than this, the process helped to seriously engage staff and management in health and safety concerns and served to underpin the success of other safety initiatives.

The category winners were:

Air New Zealand Best initiative to address a safety hazard:

Paper Reclaim, Auckland

Designed and built a machine to enable large rolls of scrap paper to be cut open for processing, eliminating serious manual handling and cutting hazards and hugely boosting productivity: what used to take ten men eight hours now takes two men one hour.

Department of Labour:Best initiative to address a health hazard:

Air New Zealand Group, Christchurch

Broke new ground internationally by comprehensively tackling the health hazard to aircraft engineers posed by beryllium dust, a cause of respiratory disease increasingly found in high-tech alloys.

OfficeMaxBest initiative to improve employee wellness:

Metrowater, Auckland

Raised employee participation levels in exercise and other wellness programmes to more than 75% by regularly seeking rich feedback from staff and learning to factor in peer support, constant motivation, achievable goals, and gender/cultural differences.

NZ Safety best initiative to encourage engagement in health & safety:

KiwiRail Corporate, Auckland

Ran a sophisticated programme to measure the company’s culture of safety at two key sites using confidential focus groups and employees working in pairs. The resulting flood of insights identified roadblocks and ways of overcoming them, and helped significantly lift staff engagement in health and safety, and helped other innovative initiatives to flourish.

SICK best design or technology initiative:

NZ Steel, Glenbrook

Devised a computerised animated training module showing its large and hazardous site to enable truck drivers to safely navigate their way around, speeding up the safety induction process and also using animation to show drivers acceptable methods for safely securing loads of steel to trucks.

Impac best health and safety initiative by a small business:

PJ & MJ Olsen Ltd and Skyline Harvesting Ltd, Tokoroa

Learned a new safety culture method and applied it to daily operations, developing the ability of supervisors and other operational managers to communicate and lead teams. The result has been better safety communications, higher levels of incident reporting, and greater productivity.

Transfield Servicesbest significant health and safety initiative by a large organisation:

Northern Gateway Alliance, Auckland

Recognised that safety performance on the large and complex Puhoi motorway extension project was declining and addressed it by introducing two new initiatives, which succeeded in shifting managers’ safety focus from reactive to proactive.

ACC best leadership of an industry sector or region:

Otago District Health Board, Dunedin

Has succeeded in positively embedding health and safety from top to bottom in a uniquely challenging industry sector, to the extent that it has become an acknowledged health and safety leader in its region and beyond.

Safeguard health and safety practitioner of the year:

Paul Reyneke, Foodstuffs (Auckland)

Challenged his organisation’s belief that its health and safety performance was OK and turned. He overturned how safety was done using counter-intuitive methods based on theoretical models. Attitudes to safety have now moved from minimum compliance to enthusiastic ownership at all levels, injuries have declined 90% over the past two years, and the new low injury level is being sustained and reduced still further.

Ross Wilson – NZCTU most influential employee:

Michelle Scarf, Otago District Health Board

Her ability to engage other staff in health and safety has become legendary within her organisation, by building effective teams and using an unorthodox fun approach, including dressing up as Priscilla Presley and Austin Powers during major health and safety participation events.

In brief: Top 10 tips for OHS compliance checklist:

1. Promote a positive safety culture

2. Ensure all employees, visitors and contractors receive a suitable workplace induction

3. Consult with employees on matters of Occupational Health and Safety

4. Develop and implement formal policies, procedures and protocol addressing Occupational Health and Safety requirements

5. Address reported Occupational Health and Safety issues promptly

6. Investigate accidents efficiently to prevent re-occurrence

7. Regularly check the workplace for hazards

8. Display safety information throughout the workplace

9. Maintain suitable first aid provisions

10. Develop, implement and practice emergency procedures

This article was written for HRINZ publication by


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Disclaimer: This information has been written for and submitted to HRINZ for publication and has been published in good faith for the general information of HRINZ Members of the Institute. HRINZ accepts no legal responsibility for the contents of the Knowledge Base and appropriate professional advice and assistance should be sought in particular cases.

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