Health and safety – still important!

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 10, 2020

There is a lot of uncertainty in New Zealand and the world about our economic situation, post-Covid-19. Some businesses have continued operating with limited financial impact, others have struggled through, some have had to close, and others are reinventing themselves. The worst may still be coming.

With a focus on marketing and business structure, health and safety may be the last thing business owners and managers are considering. However, health and safety should be a major consideration, especially now. The tragic loss of life from Covid-19 in New Zealand was limited due to the management of the pandemic by our government, business owners, essential services, and our people. In the first 11 weeks of 2020, 10 people lost their lives in their workplaces. No one goes to work expecting to die; no employer or business owner expects to lose a worker, or have a worker suffer serious injuries. Good management of health and safety is essential in preventing loss of life, or life-changing injuries. The social and economic cost of failing to protect our workers is huge – both financially and emotionally. This is a time to talk to your workers, particularly if the work has changed or you have had to downsize. Ask what has been working well for them so you can keep doing it. Ask what they find challenging and what suggestions they may have to improve this.

Monitor the work to ensure they are not taking risky shortcuts. Workers will usually do what they need to do to get the work done. They may be reluctant to raise concerns if they are aware that the business has been negatively affected by the economic effects of Covid-19. This is not always safe or efficient. Implementing and maintaining health and safety is not only a legal requirement, it also makes good business sense. Businesses are more attractive to good quality workers, less likely to suffer from the downtime of injury or plant damage/breakdown, and more likely to win work.