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Assault reveals serious Health and Safety issues

E tū says its inquiries have revealed glaring deficiencies for security guards, in the health and safety processes of the Waikato District Health Board and its security contractor, Allied Security.

E tū Senior organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi says media bans imposed on the guards by Allied have compounded matters, by denying the guards the right to speak publicly about their fears for their safety.

The union is investigating after the assault three weeks ago on a Waikato Hospital security guard member who faces months of recovery from her injuries.

“Our member’s son, Carl Harney has said the media ban, which applies to his injured mother, is a breach of people’s right to freedom of speech, and we agree,” says Iriaka.

“Given how unsafe this hospital is for our security guard members, it’s important these issues are raised and dealt with, so workers need to be able to speak up,” she says.

“The guards have spoken to Allied about their concerns, but nothing has been done.”

Iriaka says her information is based on interviews with the guards as well as meetings with DHB officials.

“There are robust health and safety processes for directly-employed DHB staff, but for contracted security guards, they appear to be ad hoc at best and non-existent at worst,” she says.

“That means a lack of incident reports and training, and neither the guards nor the DHB could tell me who the Health and Safety reps are,” says Iriaka.

“We would also add concerns about the very long hours the guards are working because they are so understaffed,” she says.

Iriaka says while Allied has a health and safety policy, there seems to be no structure for dealing with health and safety matters.

“I’ve requested the names of any Health and Safety Reps and the minutes of any H&S Committee meetings, and we’ve received nothing. How do we monitor and assess risks on the job if there are no processes in place?”

Iriaka says the DHB admits it is responsible for the guards’ safety, but she believes it’s shrugged off any role in policing its security contractor, Allied.

She says despite requests, Allied Security has failed to update the union, or communicate at all on its inquiry into the assault on the hospital guard, “which just isn’t good enough.


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