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Companies vie for top Department of Labour Safeguard award

27 May 2012

Companies vie for top Department of Labour Safeguard award

Two Auckland companies and one based in Taranaki are in the running for the Department of Labour (DOL) sponsored Safeguard award for ‘Best Initiative to Address a Health Hazard’.

ABB Ltd and Countdown Logistics from Auckland, and the Fonterra Co-operative Group based in Whareroa, Taranaki, were shortlisted in the DOL sponsored category that recognises an initiative in which an occupational health hazard has been identified and managed.

Criteria for the category extends to managing hazards such as airborne substances, infectious diseases, sprains and strains, hazardous substances, thermal comfort and noise.

ABB Limited identified that the weight and bulk of the switchgear units that its electrical manufacturing facility produced was taxing for assembly line staff, particularly as manual handing and double handling were involved. ABB initiated an ergonomic risk assessment for its assembly line staff and as a result developed a variety of solutions to alleviate the problems.

Manual handling was also an issue for the Auckland Regional Distribution Centre of Countdown Logistics. The company identified it as a major cause of sprains and strains among order assembly staff who were each lifting more than ten tonnes of product a day. Countdown Logistics implemented a range of initiatives to reduce manual picking and rewrapping by hand for its staff.

The Fonterra Co-operative Group, based in Whareroa recognised that the safety data sheets and induction manual the company provided, were not raising sufficient awareness among staff of potential hazards in the workplace. The problem was particularly highlighted by the company’s health and safety committee who after comprehensive research identified that chemicals used in some of the laboratory product tests were hazardous to the unborn child – and a high proportion of laboratory staff are women of childbearing age. The committee developed a bold visual icon in the test methods manual which clearly identify tests that pose a risk to pregnant staff.

“The nominations this year show a very high level of innovation and imagination,” says the Department’s Deputy Chief Executive Lesley Haines. “Very encouraging is the fact that employers and employees are focused on reducing harm in the workplace. Everybody should expect they will be able to go home from work safe and well.”

Now in their eighth year, the awards are well established as an annual highlight for those involved in the prevention of injury and ill-health arising from work.

The winners in each of the competitive categories, and an overall winner, will be announced at a gala dinner at SKYCITY Convention Centre in Auckland on 30 May.

The awards are organised by Thomson Reuters, publisher of Safeguard magazine, and supported by the Department of Labour.


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