Three WorkSafe videos you need to see

With the passing of the Health and Safety at Work Act, the legislation introduced a number of new requirements for both businesses and workers. In many respects, businesses with strong health and safety processes were in a secure position from the offset. However, due to the new wording, and the introduction of new concepts and definitions, many contractors and businesses are unsure about what the Act and its obligations mean to them.

In response to this environment of ambiguity, WorkSafe New Zealand released several short films that aim to clear the air. These "Icebreakers", as they are called, combine present crucial information about work site safety in the most quintessential Kiwi way.

So to help you understand how the Act is to be interpreted, here are three Icebreakers to get you learning and laughing all at the same time.

Icebreaker 1: Is it Reasonably Practicable?

When the Act was introduced last year, the phrase "reasonably practicable" was widely misunderstood. Yet, the term is of much importance and can be found throughout the Act.

The term ensures that the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) was doing everything in its power to keep workers safe and healthy. The term is an indication that a PCBU is expected to make a judgement call that involves considering the risk against the available resources.

WorkSafe points out organisations that follow industry best practice when carrying out tasks are likely to already be taking satisfactory actions to ensure health and safety. 

Icebreaker 2: Risk management

Another key component of the Act is the effective management of risks through the identification of new hazards. Keeping workers safe from harm involves identifying and managing the risks that face workers on an everyday basis. 

In the video below, the manager is helping another know about a new hazard that will be on the floor that day. Additionally, she has put in place a risk a management system that can effectively govern the new hazards. 

WorkSafe advises employers and employees to manage the most significant and crucial risks first before moving on to less serious risks. Like the manager in the video, behaviour, knowledge and the processes themselves should be continuously monitored and revised to ensure that all new risks are accounted for and workplace health and safety compliance is achieve. 

Icebreaker 3: Working with others towards health and safety

As all builders know, construction sites are typically buzzing with activity. From waterproofing professionals to scaffolding, the number of different people and businesses working on a site can make safety compliance a difficult proposition. 

However, ensuring businesses work together towards a safe work site is a fundamental aspect of the new Act. Where two or more businesses overlap, so do their responsibilities to health and safety. What this means is that businesses need to ensure they consult, liaison and coordinate with others to ensure they meet their obligations under the Act. 

According to the government, every week one person dies at work, while another 15 people die from work-related diseases. New Zealand's health and safety record is twice as bad as our trans-Tasman neighbours, while it is three times worse than the UK's. With the cost of deaths, injuries and other health issues estimated at $3.5 billion and the unquantifiable emotional costs on family and friends, the government has made it a priority for businesses to work together. 

One of the best ways to ensure that your business is compliant with the new Act is through safety software, such as the cloud-based SiteApp. Not only does it condense the workload by making your safety documentation easily accessible, it also can help monitoring as information is displayed in real time. 

If you would like to know more, talk to the experts at SiteApp today and find out how they can customise the application to fit your compliance and business needs. 

Protecting against falls in New Zealand’s construction industry

New Zealand is home to a thriving construction industry. From alterations to civil construction, the industry has a wide range of areas and sub-sectors. Yet, across the board, falls are one of the biggest risks to work site safety

SiteApp can ensure more effective workplace compliance across the board.

In response, the government has outlined a number of specific ways to ensure that workers and employees are safe while on site. Is it possible for multiple companies to ensure they are preventing falls from a height and collaborating across work health and safety systems?

Falls are a source of major concern to authorities

The construction industry is one of the economic pillars in New Zealand. According to the government, close to 180,000 people work in the sector (over 8 per cent of the total workforce), which makes it the sixth largest industry. Additionally, it contributes 6 per cent every year to New Zealand's GDP that puts it on par with the agriculture sector.

The sector relies heavily on labour-only contracting, and as a result, there are fewer opportunities to train less-skilled workers. Therefore, contractors sometimes lack the required skills needed to operate safely, making it imperative to have robust and simple safety processes in place. 

WorkSafe New Zealand points out that falls from roofs and ladders at a height of three metres or less account for 18 per cent of injury causing accidents. 

As such, it is essential that contractors, construction companies, and developers understand their responsibilities as well as how they can help avoid this on their sites. 

What rights do workers have?What rights do construction workers have?

Rights of construction workers 

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, construction workers are offered a number of rights to stay safe at work. These can include the right to work in a safe environment, where hazards are managed by employers and workers are made aware of how to keep themselves safe. 

Additionally, this can also mean that all equipment, such as workplace tools, vehicles and machinery, are safe to use and in good working order. 

When this comes to working at heights, workers have the right to the use of a safe ladder – one that is not damaged or in a state of disrepair that could lead to an injury. Additionally, workers have the right to a safe worksite no matter where they are or the type of work they are doing. 

Organisational responsibilities

In response to workers' rights, organisations need to ensure that they're satisfying their responsibilities when workers undertake activities from a height. 

With some sites having multiple contractors and construction companies working on it, there is a greater need to ensure that these responsibilities are understood by all stakeholders. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, companies are required to engage with both workers and organisations to ensure that safety is approached in a responsible way. 

Organisations need to ensure that safety is approached in a responsible way.

Unfortunately, many of the older, paper-based systems are unable to interact with one another due to the large volume of forms and other documentation needed. While they may be able to do the job, there are more effective ways of ensuring that workers' safety rights are protected. For instance, safety software can bring together all the required documentation and make is accessible from one source. Additionally, applications such as SiteApp can simplify compliance by managing the documentation of accurate information, and effective processes. 

If you are worried that your safety system is not properly encouraging workers to undertake safe activities when working from heights, talk to SiteApp today. Their safety application can help you keep a track of all the safety processes in action on your sites. 

Operating heavy machinery safely

There are a number of threats to health and safety on construction sites, but perhaps one of the biggest is heavy machinery. If operated incorrectly, it can pose a significant danger to workers, which could result in injuries to your staff and the disruption of financial penalties for your business.

Consequently, it is essential that employers have a good understanding of how to properly manage the use of heavy machinery, to ensure the work site remains safe and productive at all times.

Heavy machinery can present a number of potential hazards, but the right health and safety strategy can help mitigate them.Heavy machinery can present a number of potential hazards, but the right health and safety strategy can help mitigate them.

Heavy machinery poses a risk to workers

While it can be an effective and necessary tool for many construction workers, heavy machinery does present a number of risks to those operating it and working nearby. Workers compensation law firm identifies several top hazards of using this equipment, and it's important for site managers to be aware of what could go wrong.

  • When working around heavy machinery, there is the potential for someone to get snared by an apparatus and entangled or seriously injured by the machine itself.
  • As with any piece of technology, it is possible for equipment to malfunction, and depending on the nature of the failure this may result in harm to the workers.
  • Machinery such as forklifts and tractors can be extremely heavy and difficult to manoeuvre, and an inadequately designed environment may cause trauma from repetitive movements or may lead to a foundational collapse.

There are many other possible dangers related to the use of machinery, including tipping, harmful substances and heavy lifting.

A health and safety app can give employers better insight into the needs of a site.

How can you ensure machinery is being operated safely on site?

When it comes to keeping employees safe, it is the duty of employers to take every precaution as far as is practicable to monitor on site safety operations. According to Worksafe New Zealand, there are number of actions for employers to take.

They must do everything they can to create a secure environment and ensure equipment is being operated carefully at all times. They need to come up with a suitable set of procedures for managing health and safety, as well as reporting and assessing any incidents. In addition, it is important to implement thorough training for workers to ensure they have a good understanding of best practises, and also to provide the appropriate safety equipment. 

Nevertheless, employers cannot be everywhere at once, which is why investing in a workplace safety app such as SiteApp can enable you to oversee health and safety practises from any location while on the go, ensuring that your site always has the best information available. 

Managing health and safety with migrant construction workers

With a number of ongoing building projects in New Zealand, foreign contractors are becoming more regular on the construction site. While these workers are highly important to filling skills gaps, construction companies find themselves facing new challenges to ensuring effective workplace health and safety systems are in place. 

As foreign workers come with their own cultures, languages and ways of doing things, it is essential that construction companies have a streamlined, accessible and effective safety system in place. So how could safety software bridge the gap and make sure workers of different cultures are collaborating to foster a safe work environment?

Work site safety is based on clear communication, yet cultural misunderstandings can and do happen.

Christchurch rebuild a clear example

Following the devastation brought by the February 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch, the city and surrounding suburbs reconstructed their lives as well as their structures. The rebuild offered residents a new beginning, yet it also brought with it a skill shortage that had to be filled.

Speaking to The Nation in 2013, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse pointed out that 35,000 workers were needed to complete the rebuild, but he predicted a shortage of 17,000.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the rebuild is going to require a significant number of migrant labour," he said.

With demolitions beginning, construction companies charged with rebuilding the city sought tradespeople from wherever they could find them. According to Statistics New Zealand, one in five people in the Greater Christchurch Area were born overseas, with English and Australian the two most common countries of birth. 

Of those who have moved to Christchurch since the earthquakes or have been living in New Zealand for two years or less:

  • Over 1,300 people are from the People's Republic of China.
  • Around 1,000 individuals stem from the Philippines.
  • Nearly 1,000 people came from India.
  • More than 860 were born in Ireland. {attribute?}

While many of Christchurch's new residents are coming from overseas in the hope of finding jobs in the reconstruction efforts, many still are being directly recruited. 

How could language barriers impact site safety?How can language barriers impact site safety?

Working across cultures essential in New Zealand

With the influx of workers to New Zealanders shores, companies within the construction industry have to insure that they are encompassing all those who work on their sites. Yet, due to cultural barriers, misunderstandings happen and workers can be left unaware of their responsibilities. 

Learning to work with people from other cultures is essential to building a safety relationship with foreign contractors. With the new Health and Safety at Work's focus on collaborative approaches to safety, ensuring culture is not a barrier is essential. 

Roy Chua, an assistant professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School, said cross cultural collaboration was essential in today's commercial world. He pointed out that to minimise the misunderstandings and reap the benefits, people need to find a common platform to appeal to both sides.

A safety app can help bridge cultural misunderstandings.

One way to achieve this is through a simple and easily accessible safety system. However, with older, paper based methods, workplace compliance can be arduous and out of reach for those not accustomed to New Zealand's work site safety environment. 

Technology and safety software, in particular, can bridge this gap and help achieve better collaboration with foreign contractors. Margaret Williams of Russia's Fulbright program pointed out that digital technology can help facilitate cross-cultural communication and has been using it to great effect in her classrooms.

When it comes to managing staff, it can become difficult to administrate foreign workers if supervisors do not have the skills to break down barriers. As such, there needs to be a safety system in place to break down barriers.

SiteApp is safety software that incorporates ease of use and a rage of features that supports a safe working environment. Through its use, workers can stay safe and ensure organisations meet their health and safety requirements. Contact a representative today to learn more

How have New Zealand Asbestos regulations changed?

Asbestos is New Zealand's primary reason for workplace death. The government points out that close to 170 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases.

With so many casualties, there is no surprise that the Health and Safety at Work Act that came into force has changed the way workers manage asbestos if they come into contact with it. However, this change could catch a number of people off guard. 

Health and safety in the workplace can be impacted by asbestos-containing materials

What responsibilities do workers and business have?

Asbestos is a grouping of materials that were commonly used up until the 1990s. It was a favoured building material due to its strength, durability and resistance to both fire and water. 

As a result of its versatility, it was used for a number of different applications and can be found in a wide variety of locations. These include roofs, ceilings, external cladding and eaves. 

Due to health risks that asbestos presents, the government introduced the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016. The new regulations ensure that all workers and the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) are aware of their responsibilities.

For example, if a PCBU is unsure as to whether asbestos is present within a workplace, Section 48 determines that it is the PCBU's responsibility to ensure an inspection and analysis of a sample is conducted. 

What obligations do workers and companies have?What obligations do workers and companies have?

Managing asbestos removal

Alongside changes to the structure of workplace health and safety, the new regulations also introduce a new licensing system for asbestos removal. The system divides removal into two licenses. 

Class A allows any type or quantity of asbestos or asbestos-containing material (ACM) to be removed. This includes friable asbestos and ACM, asbestos-contaminated dust or debris (ACD) and non-friable asbestos. Class B only allows for the removal of non-friable asbestos or ACM or any amount of ACD. 

Alongside this, from April 2018 the government will require PCBUs who engage in the removal of asbestos to have an asbestos assessor's license. An assessor will provide air quality monitoring while removal work is being undertaken, investigate the finished job and sign off on it. 

For PCBUs, if they commission the removal of asbestos it is their duty to make sure that the work is completed by a licensed removalist.

One of the major problems that comes with asbestos removal is coordinating with the multiple PCBUs that are typically involved in a project. With traditional paper-based systems, it can be hard to communicate responsibilities and activities among workers and construction companies.

One way to overcome this is through the use of safety software that is mobile applicable. If you would like to learn more about how asbestos removal and safety apps can work together, contact SiteApp today