Everyone is responsible for H&S and helping one another stay healthy and safe. This is true from a practical perspective, as well as a legal one — each business needs to make sure workers can contribute to health and safety decisions at work.
This means that New Zealand’s “she’ll be right” attitude is often not good enough.
You get better health and safety if you all take ownership for getting everyone home healthy and safe. The way to do this is to engage with your workers and have ways for them to participate.
It’s essential for business owners to engage with their workers and have ways for them to participate in H&S. This is because:
Goodmans, a civil contracting firm, boosted on-site reporting and worker participation with a number of simple measures.
It’s all about two-way communication. Business owners must:
Workers must have:
You’ll need to ensure workers can contribute on H&S matters which may affect them, including:
Test your understanding of worker engagement and participation by taking a WorkSafe quiz (external link) .
Tim and Suzie run a dairy farm in Waikato. They employ two casual workers, Ken and Chris, who use heavy equipment as part of their jobs. Having both been raised on farms, Ken and Chris are comfortable doing this.
However, when Tim buys a much larger tractor, he wants to make sure everyone knows the proper way to use it and feels confident driving it. This is because it’s an expensive asset and because he’s concerned about people’s safety.
Tim asks Ken and Chris how they would best like to learn how to drive the more powerful tractor. Because they both like hands-on learning, they both say they’d like Tim to show them how to use it in practice.
However, Ken says he’d also like the manual, so he can read it and ask any follow-up questions. Tim gives Ken the manual. Chris, however, is dyslexic and this isn’t going to work as well for him. Knowing this, Tim asks Chris if there is anything else that might help his learning style. Chris says he’d just like a few more hours watching Tim and Ken drive it before he starts himself. If he has any questions or concerns he’ll ask.
Everyone is happy with this arrangement and Chris is thankful his boss took his dyslexia into account.
Any business can arrange for one of its workers to be an H&S representative or set up an H&S committee.
Some business must have a rep, or consider a committee, if requested by workers. These are businesses with 20+ workers or those classed by law as being high-risk. See the list of industries considered high-risk (external link) on the New Zealand Legislation website.
However, you can still agree to an H&S representative, even if legally you don't have to. It's a great way to get your people involved in health and safety at the workplace.
Keeping the question broad can get better results.