Taranaki RMBA initiative pays off

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The Taranaki Construction Safety Group recently hosted the first Taranaki Apprentice Safety Challenge day in New Plymouth.
The group is an informal association of safety practitioners involved in the construction industry and supported by the BCITO, Department of Labour, and ACC. The Taranaki RMBA is well represented on, and supports, the group also.

Seven teams with three or four apprentices each participated in the challenge, held in the Taranaki Health, Safety and Environment training centre.
Taranaki RMBA president Andrew Pepper says the purpose of the May event was to raise awareness among trade apprentices of health and safety in the workplace and in other aspects of their lives, such as at home and on the road.

“The apprentices relished the competitive and practical nature of the event. For employers, the skills the apprentices learned or refreshed are an invaluable form of free training relevant to the industry,” Mr Pepper says.

“General feedback from contestants, employers and organisers alike was great, and it proved so popular and successful we now plan to do it every year.”
Injury Prevention New Plymouth ACC’s Alison Pitman says the idea for the challenge day comes from a similar event ACC and relevant industry stakeholders have been arranging for agricultural students in the area in the past 12 years.

Thirteen representatives from 11 safety stake holders supervised the day’s activities and kept score. They were Karen Lawson, Red Cross; Desiree Paulsen, Civil Defence; Dinah King, Road Safe Taranaki; Gray Bamber and Phil Shaw, Health Protection; Matt Crabtree, New Plymouth Fire Service; Caryn Wetton and Steve Rubick, Department of Labour; Guy Honnor, Sport Taranaki; Ian Morris, Fletchers; Bruce Duggan, BCITO; Lesley Johnson, Clelands Construction Ltd; and Phil Garrett, Greaves Electrical.

Teams from Bell Building Ltd, Clelands Construction Ltd, Dave Fabish Ltd, Fletcher Construction, Carey Johnstone Scaffolding, Pepper Construction Ltd, Street and Cook Construction Ltd, and Shell Todd Oil Services put their skills and knowledge to the test.

Ms Pitman says the organisers challenged the teams to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in a series of nine practical exercises in areas including first aid, food safety, working at height, dealing with fire, measuring fitness, and planning for safety when working in the home and other situations.

“The organisers ensured the tasks set would challenge the apprentices in different situations and give them the opportunity to learn something new from each activity. The supervisors gave them information, instruction, and hands-on coaching throughout the day as required, adding extra value to the event as refresher training,” she says.

Points were awarded for hazard identification, selection of PPE, team work and knowledge. In the final round, the teams chased final and deciding points in a quick-fire quiz based on general safety questions.

PlaceMakers, Mitre 10 Mega and EquipSafety donated prizes, and New Plymouth Injury Safe and ACC provided the catering and venue. The RMBA sponsored and presented the winning team, from Shell Todd Oil Services, with the Prize Winners’ Shield.

Ms Pitman says the participants were good ambassadors for their respective employers, and the fresh focus on safety awareness on the job will benefit their teams.
“I’m sure there are many instances where our young entrants have put to use some new information or understanding. As one of the apprentices said during the event, they may have received all the training, and they may know what to do, but reminding them to put it to good use every day can only be good,” she comments.

Those were words that rang true barely a month later, when two apprentices from the Clelands team, who came second, faced an emergency at work.
Working on a project in Oakura, one of their work mates took a fall from a 1.6m-high platform. Clelands company director Martin Stephens says he is proud of the fast and decisive manner Ashley Lynsky and Peter Manning jumped into action.

The pair immediately called for emergency services and applied first aid to their work mate.
Mr Stephens says feedback from the emergency services and bystanders on the calm and confident way Lynsky and Manning handled the stressful situation was very positive.

“The two men say the renewed focus and training, still fresh in their minds from the challenge day, meant they felt no panic but knew exactly what to do to attend to the work mate correctly,” he says. The work mate is convalescing.

A DVD of the event is available from Ms Pitman at Injury Prevention New Plymouth ACC. For more information, contact her on alison.pitman@acc.co.nz.