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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard Magazine

From the editor—From then to now

How do you like our cover image? Did you gasp with horror at how casually high-rise construction workers operated back in the early 1980s? Or did you give a nostalgic sigh and start reminiscing about the good old days when men were men and working at height was a test of character (and balance)?

The photo came to light when I approached Keith Stewart as one of a group of people asked to write a brief piece to help us celebrate 30 years since the Department of Labour first published Safeguard, way back in October 1988. You can read the results on page 60.

Turns out Keith, quite the photographer, has a box full of negatives from the time he worked on the BNZ site in the early 80s, years before he began working for the regulator. He reckons site safety wasn’t too bad for the time, though his own hearing was damaged. He recalls the person in charge of site safety was an elderly carpenter, and that whenever an inspector from the DoL turned up delaying tactics would swing into action while people were despatched upstairs to make sure all the handrails were in place. Given his eventual career, Keith is a great example of poacher turned gamekeeper.

A measure of how far we have come in our view of what health and safety encompasses is illustrated in Nicole Rosie’s piece on page 20, where she signals WorkSafe’s intent to tackle psychosocial issues (bullying, sexual harassment) while at the same time seeks to manage expectations: we as a country, she says, and WorkSafe as a regulator, are less mature than some other similar countries in these matters, so don’t expect things to move too quickly.

It’s a welcome statement of intent from the regulator, even with the caveat on maturity. Its timeliness is reinforced by the four stories under the Healthy Work banner on pages 38 to 49. The authors challenge us to reconsider our view of what constitutes good and safe work, and to seek first to reduce or eliminate exposure to psychosocial risk at source, rather than focusing primarily on patching up the walking psychologically wounded.

In its own way, Wellington City Council’s strategy of placing the health and wellbeing of staff at the centre of everything it does constitutes something of a quiet revolution. We all realise the need to move away from compliance-centred safety; what the council provides is an example of its polar opposite, a care-centred view of people.

(Also, if you enjoy a good dad joke, be sure to pop in to the council and have a word with Kevin. He’ll take good care of you. Confused? Story on page 30.)

PETER BATEMAN @safeguardnz

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