Healthy and safe workplaces

E tū's award-winning health and safety rep, Brett Swanson

E tū's award-winning health and safety rep, Brett Swanson

E tū AA member HSR winner

E tū member and AA road service officer, Brett Swanson, says a top health and safety award recognises the safety efforts of his whole team.

Brett won the Safeguard award for HSE Recruitment Health and Safety Representative of the Year at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards, held in Auckland in June.

The award recognises Brett’s outstanding work at AA though “it’s not just about me,” says Brett. “There are people behind me, not just my management but my colleagues as well.”

Brett says the AA takes safety seriously, with systems and processes at every level.

“There’s so much that could go wrong on the side of the road beyond your control that you’ve got to manage. Health and safety is a biggie.”

Brett says workers are encouraged to come forward with ideas on safety improvements.

“In the process we follow, there are all sort of forms for identifying hazards, near-misses, accidents, and people have to follow the procedures to get things done. You can’t just whinge about something like you used to. If you follow that process, it’ll get looked into properly.”

Brett has achieved the relevant Unit Standard 29315 on safety at work and urges other Health and Safety Representatives to do likewise.

Court case after serious assault

E tū has lodged a case with the Employment Relations Authority after a serious assault on an IDEA Services support worker by a service user in Palmerston North last Christmas.

The case alleges IDEA Services is failing to keep its staff safe.

Delegate Nic Corrigan, who witnessed the assault, says it happened in the early morning, with the service user turning on the staffer and chasing her down the street before catching her and beating her unconscious. She is still recovering.

Nic says IDEA Services’ safety practices are inadequate.

“They did say they were going to double staff but they’ve gone back to single staffing. Our concern is this service user has a pattern of behaviour and, while things are calm now, our worry is that in another six months we’re going to be revisiting all this.

“He’s put a lot of staff on ACC long-term.”

IDEA Services has Health and Safety Committees, but delegates say those are more about the safety of service users, not staff.

“We constantly have to be in their face to ensure staff safety,” says Nic.