What can we learn from the finalists of the NZ Workplace Health & Safety Awards?

Workplace health and safety is a major focus for New Zealand business, so it's no surprise that the area of expertise has its own awards ceremony. The New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards is an annual event organised by Thomson Reuters, which publishes the magazine Safeguard, and supported by WorkSafe New Zealand. 

Safety software could help you emulate the characteristics of success these finalists exhibit.

Safeguard editor Peter Bateman said that close to 140 entries were received in 2016 from organisations of all shapes and sizes.

"Despite these differences, what most entries had in common was a desire to go beyond simple compliance with the law – not only because preventing injuries and illness is morally the right thing to do, but because it opens up opportunities to improve culture and processes at all levels," he pointed out.

With the finalists been recently announced, New Zealand companies could learn a thing or two about effective work site safety from  the candidates. Here are three examples:

Finalist 1: Fulton Hogan – Kensington Swan best initiative to address a safety risk

This 80 year veteran of the civil construction industry is a major part of New Zealand's, Australia's and the South Pacific's commercial landscape. With operations stretching from mining and asphalt emulsion and precast plants all the way to construction sites and infrastructure maintenance, the company's breadth and size makes work health and safety a tricky issue.

However, it's no rookie when it comes to keeping its workers, employees, and contractors safe. In 2015, it won the Kensington Swan best initiative to address a safety risk and it is once again nominated for the award. Last year, the organisation's joint venture with John Holland was awarded the prize for developing a bag filling system that significantly reduced manual handling on site, decreasing the risk shouldered by workers. 

What stands out about Fulton Hogan is its commitment to health and safety, developing new and innovative ways to reduce risk that boost the confidence workers have in the company's safety systems. 

How can safety be met on construction sites.How can safety be met on construction sites?

Finalist 2: Frucor Beverages – NZ Safety best initiative to encourage engagement in health and safety

While some may not be completely aware of this company, almost all Kiwis will know its product brands, including V and Just Juice. The drinks company won Aon Hewitt Best Employer accreditation in 2015, which it has won on a number of occasions.

Frucor is known around the world for its high level of employment engagement. According to Aon Hewitt, 77 per cent of employees state that they felt a strong connection to the values that underline the Frucor brand. The secret is that this push for engagement is not just a manager level initiative, but starts from some of its most senior leaders. Take, for instance, Frucor's Under Cover Boss, which allows the CEOs to, sit down with and, learn about the every day tasks of its employees. 

With the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 making salient the responsibilities of companies to engage with workers on safety obligations, Frucor is a clear example of how this can be achieved. 

How did Men at Work hit its safety objectives for six?How did Men at Work hit its safety objectives for six?

Finalist 3: Men at Work – Site Safe best health and safety initiative by a small business

Managing the traffic of a global cricket event with 2 billion eyes on you sounds daunting right? Not for Men at Work. With hundreds of orange cones and workers in fluorescent jackets, the company knocked their safety goals out of the park. 

By creating an original traffic management plan and liaising with a number of stakeholders, including the Christchurch City Council and the police, the biggest implementation of traffic management in Christchurch's history went off without a hitch. 

If you would like to know more about how SiteApp could transform your business, talk to a representative today.

Building a positive health and safety culture

As all organisations know, workplace health and safety is an essential element for all businesses. However, the way many approach it fails to be beneficial. A positive health and safety culture can and does add value to an organisation if it is implemented properly. 

So what does it take to develop a positive work health and safety culture and how can you implement one at your organisation?

Building a positive workplace health and safety culture depends on knowing what 'culture' is.

What is culture?

Before we begin to talk about positive work health and safety, we must first understand what we mean when we talk about culture, or more specifically, organisational culture. 

When anthropologists first came up with the term nearly a century ago, they imagined it as an all encompassing concept that incorporated all that humans do, including our institutions, languages and traditions. However, over time it was distilled into a definition that goes something like this: "The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a group or organisation of people that is transferred between generations."

In relation to organisational culture, this academic definition fits. Think for instance about leadership style and how this permeates throughout the organisation, influencing the way processes are structured and enacted. Culture provides the background for the way people perform their everyday tasks and the interactions among employees, customers and management staff. 

Safety is more than an individuals responsibility. Safety is more than an individual's responsibility.

What is safety culture then?

If culture is the shared meanings, values and behaviours of people, safety culture is thus all that relates to ensuring safety in the workplace. In other words, safety culture is the common understanding that everyone has the right to be safe and healthy while at work as well as the responsibility to act in a way that ensures this is a reality. 

One of the most important aspects of culture is that it penetrates all aspects of an organisation, from top to bottom. As such, safety culture is influenced by all members of a business, be it the CEO, an HR manager or a labourer. In this respect, everybody thus has a responsibility to ensure that the culture is a positive one. 

However, some people have a greater ability to affect change in an organisation than others and thus have a greater onus on them. In most cases this refers to people in upper management. 

So how do I build a positive workplace safety culture?

As culture is defined as a host of transferable values and meanings, building a positive culture of health and safety can be attained in a number of ways. 

However, it all starts with ensuring the processes you have at your company serve their purpose and are thus viewed positively by all members of staff. One way to be this happens is by introducing new safety software, such as a safety app. 

Culture is inherently communal, thus safety culture is more than an individual's responsibility.

Through applications like SiteApp, employees are better able to interact and engage with workplace processes, without the hassle that characterised old paper-based systems. SiteApp for instance allows workers to access required compliance documents remotely and managers to allocate work duties to individuals in the field. 

Once organisations can begin to streamline and enhance their work health and safety processes, employees will begin to see the value of these, rather than being told how these are important. With the passing of the Health and Safety at Work Act, there is added emphasis to engage employees and ensure they are taking responsibility of their own and other's health and safety. 

If you would like to learn more about engaging employees and ensuring you have a positive workplace health and safety culture, it is important to talk to the experts in the field. Contact SiteApp today.