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National health & safety awards

7 April 2006

Winners announced at national health & safety awards

Fulton Hogan’s Auckland branch has taken out the overall champion title at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards 2006, run by Safeguard magazine with the support of the Department of Labour.

Winners were announced on Wednesday night at a gala dinner at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau, attended by a capacity audience of 300. It is the second year the awards have been run.

Fulton Hogan’s winning entry was for an initiative to eliminate a hydrochloric acid mist hazard in the preparation of polymer emulsion, which is used in the manufacture of asphalt. At the same time, the company removed the need for staff to do heavy lifting, and set up a safe separate storage area for the bulk acid used.

The awards attracted 115 entries from around the country, competing in nine categories. The overall winner was chosen from the category winners. Fulton Hogan’s entry won the Air New Zealand best initiative to address an occupational health hazard category.

Peter Bateman, editor of Safeguard and a member of the judging panel, said that Fulton Hogan was chosen as overall winner for a number of reasons which, taken together, made a compelling case.

"Fulton Hogan recognised that operators faced a serious health hazard and addressed it before anyone was hurt, not afterwards. Their solution was elegant: not only was the process automated to eliminate the acid mist, but it also removed the need for staff to handle heavy drums. At the same time, the bulk quantities of acid required for the process have been isolated from staff in a separate and secure storage area built for the purpose.”

As well as removing multiple hazards, the company’s initiative also improved product quality, as the automation process eliminates possible error in a delicate chemical mix where getting the quantities just right is critical to the quality of the resulting polymer emulsion.

“It’s a great example of how a health and safety initiative not only reduces hazards to employees but increases productivity and product quality,” said Bateman.

The awards are a chance for people to remind themselves that workplace health and safety is a good news story for everyone.

"Health and safety usually only surfaces in the media following a death or injury at work. But behind the scenes there are thousands of dedicated people working to prevent injuries and illness."

"Despite the occasional headlines, we shouldn't forget that workplace health and safety is actually a good news story."

The nine award categories, and the winners of each, are:

Department of Labour best productivity gain from a health & safety initiative

Watercare Services (Auckland) for an extremely simple device which improved safety and productivity of employees installing safety nets beneath manhole covers.

Air New Zealand best initiative to address an occupational health hazard

Fulton Hogan (Auckland)

OfficeMax best initiative to improve employee wellness

Vodafone (Auckland) for a web-based wellness programme matching the way its employees work.

Air New Zealand best system to encourage employee participation in health & safety

Recreational Services (Auckland) for boosting staff heavily involved in OHS from two to 14, empowering its OHS committee to handle all OHS communications, and involving all staff in identifying hazards and proposing solutions.

SICK best design or technology initiative

O-I New Zealand (Auckland) for challenging a team of apprentices to solve a manual handling problem involving heavy moulds using found materials on site.

EMA best health & safety initiative by a small business

Findlater Sawmilling (Winton) for using historical data to recognise a strains & sprains issue, hiring a number of external consultants to address the problem, and adopting early intervention measures to prevent escalation.

ACC ThinkSafe best leadership of an industry sector

CApENZ (Centre of Applied Engineering NZ, New Plymouth) for taking a leadership role within its region by opening the Taranaki Health, Safety & Environment Centre and forging productive partnerships with a wide range of key regional stakeholders.

Safeguard health and safety practitioner of the year

Buddy Chaffey (Carter Holt Harvey Penrose Mill, Auckland) for a series of new initiatives and for being a safety mentor and leader not only within his own workplace but across the wider Carter Holt Harvey group.
Prize: a Mystery Package for two, courtesy Air New Zealand.

NZCTU most influential employee

Phil Jennings (Ribbonwood Yarding Systems, Rotorua) for being a safety leader in one of the most dangerous occupations whose efforts have helped his crew win more business.
Prize: a Mystery Package for two, courtesy Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Best overall contribution to improving workplace health and safety

Fulton Hogan (Auckland)
Prize: a five-day holiday for two to Brisbane, courtesy Air New Zealand, to award to the appropriate employee.

Judges’ commendations go to:

Action Direction (Wellington) for its safety signage project.
City Care (Christchurch) for its induction/training DVD.
Brazier Scaffolding (Invercargill) for its flu pandemic initiative.

(Each commended organisation receives an ergonomic office chair courtesy OfficeMax.)


The five members of the judging panel were:
Mike Cosman from the Department of Labour;
Karen Fletcher from the NZ Council of Trade Unions;
Phillip McIntosh from ACC;
Roana Carran from Coverstaff (practitioner of the year in 2005);
Peter Bateman from Safeguard.

ENDS

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