World Safety and Health at Work Day
The Construction Sector Accord is tackling complacency and working toward a better health and safety culture in the sector.
Roger McRae, Construction Sector Accord Health, Safety and Wellbeing Workstream Co-Lead and Chair of Construction Health and Safety New Zealand, and Juergen Link, Construction Sector Accord Health, Safety and Wellbeing Workstream Co-Lead and Fonterra’s General Manager of Assets and Technology, reflect on the state of sector and where the Accord is headed.
"This World Safety and Health at Work Day is an opportunity to talk about what we as an industry can and should be doing to protect our people," Juergen Link says.
The Construction Sector Accord is a partnership between government and industry, working to lift the performance of the construction sector through eight workstreams focused on behaviour change and sharing good practice in key areas. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing workstream aims to improve the sector's health and safety performance through building on existing programmes that enable culture change and engagement across the sector. The workstream addresses issues across client leadership, workforce competency, consistency of standards, systems, and mental health.
"The safety and health of all who work in the construction industry must be an integral part of the planning and execution of work and we need to continue to challenge our approach to safety and health in the search for best practice," Roger McRae says.
"A project is only as good as its people," Juergen says, "facilitating an environment with caring at the core of the culture, where everyone feels safe and valued, is not only good for the team, but the added collaboration leads to increased productivity for the whole project."
"The necessary investment for adopting a people-first approach, will deliver returns for project outcomes in the form of quality and long-term sustainability of the asset. When we care about people they care what is important to the project."
New Zealand's fourth-largest employer, the construction sector employs more than 250,000 people or around ten per cent of the national workforce. Latest statistics from WorkSafe New Zealand show that more than 5,400 construction-related injuries resulting in more than a week away from work were recorded in the year between June 2019 and June 2020, consistent with the same number the year prior. The highest recorded number of accidents during this period was October 2019 with 507 injuries resulting in more than a week away from work, and the lowest number reported was 63 during April 2020 when all but four days during the month were spent at COVID-19 Alert Level 4.
"We need to do more and take collective responsibility for these injuries occurring on our watch," Juergen says, "construction is a demanding career and it's vital that we reduce the number of workplace accidents and create a more supportive environment."
The Construction Sector Accord is supporting Construction Health and Safety New Zealand to finalise a Client Leadership Framework which will assist construction clients to review their own organisations and identify areas for potential improvement across health, safety and wellbeing practices that will have a flow on effect throughout the construction supply chain.
"Everyone deserves to leave work and go home safe and well each day, and we are committed to raising the standard of behaviour across the sector so that all workers feel engaged, safe and protected," Roger says.