The heat is on!

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With all the heat on Health and Safety at the moment, I thought I would let you know what happened in my company this week.

We are building a three-storey property overlooking Hamilton Lake, on a very high-profile site. Last week we had our second visit from WorkSafe NZ to check our scaffolding, as they had received “an anonymous call” about it.

On entering the site, the inspector found the scaffold to have several defects, such as handrails missing and the distance-to-building incorrect. He immediately proceeded to put a “Stop Work” on the scaffold (but not on the site). The scaffold company had tagged the scaffold “Safe for Use”.

The WorkSafe NZ inspector rang to inform me that he had shut the scaffold down as it was unsafe to use. However, he was unaware that my site foreman had already checked the scaffold and knew it to be unsafe. He had taken photographs of the scaffold and had already had meetings on site with the scaffold company and advised them to rectify the situation ASAP.

He was following our procedures:

We were told by the inspector that without our procedures being in place we would have been liable for a considerable fine — and not just the company, but the site foreman and project manager as well.

For all those out there just paying lip service to Health and Safety, we as professional builders with the Registered Master Builders brand next to our company logo, need to take our responsibilities to our clients, our staff and all those who work on our sites, seriously.

There are plenty of resources freely available to develop your own Health and Safety policies. But it is not enough just to print out a generic Health and Safety plan to keep under the seat in the ute (for the dog to chew). You need to ensure every member of your staff understands it, and implements it on a daily basis.

Building Skills Maintenance, in conjunction with WorkSafe NZ, are running a number of workshops on this issue around the country starting in Gisborne on September 1.

I highly recommend you and your team take time out to attend. I can’t stress strongly enough how crucial Health and Safety is to your business. To find out when the workshops are on, go to the calendar on the RMBA web site members section at www.masterbuilder.org.nz, or visit www.bsm.org.nz.