Robust health and safety plan critical
New Zealand’s new Health and Safety at Work Act which came into force on April 4 2016, and the Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) scheme which launched in November 2007 have significantly changed business for many construction and construction industry related companies.
Queenstown residential building company RBJ Ltd has worked with health and safety management software and a consultant from BWARE for the past 10 years, as well as joining ACC’s Accredited Employers Programme eight years ago.
RBJ managing director Paul Rogers says he could see the way the industry was heading, and by gaining a secondary accreditation, which comes with a 15% discount on ACC levies, it saved the company about $7000 a year, which it then directed into developing a robust health and safety system.
Paul says there are still construction and construction related companies out there which aren’t taking health and safety as seriously as they should be, while construction industry customers and the general public doesn’t really understand what the construction industry is facing.
“I feel sorry for the young guys starting out,” he says. “They are trying to compete, they’re trying to run good health and safety systems, and it takes a lot of administration time. If you want to 100% comply with health and safety legislation, you’ve got a lot of ducks to get in a row.”
For subtrades, Paul says it is a common practice to withold the health and safety documentation which is meant to be provided to a project’s main contractor.
“There are a lot of trades out there who are still not doing it, and I wonder how they are surviving. We’ve had probably three workplace visits in the past three years so I’m not sure how they get through those.
“Their employees are not being well looked after, and without the right education they’re vulnerable to accidents. They are bringing staff who aren’t competent onto job sites, which can compromise the health and safety of your own staff.”
Site inductions, staff inductions, and contractor inductions can take an hour per induction, sometimes with multiple people coming on to site.
“Subtrades who don’t have a health and safety officer will get a chippy or a labourer to do it, or the site manager, where you’re paying someone qualified who should be building.”
Paul has heard of large subdivision projects operating under a self induction policy, and he can’t see how that works.
“The subtrade needs to provide the main contractor with all of their health and safety policy information, as well as data sheets which tell you what hazards they are bringing to site, and how to control that hazard.”
Paul says subtrades need to get serious about health and safety and start looking at what they’re doing with their policy.
He says a good place to start is with research, and HazardCo and The Building Hub can provide a lot of help with this. “We all want our guys to go home every night, and we don’t want to be responsible for an accident.”
With the amount of responsibility placed on a company’s health and safety officer, they need to be a person with an encompassing understanding of the construction industry.
Paul says a lot of customers aren’t awar e of the fact the construction industry is still working at the low rates it has been for a long time, but it is now absorbing so much extra cost.
And since legislation and licensing has come in, the LBP is now responsible for every single thing that goes into his job. “People need to understand the exposure the LBP is facing,” he says.
“Your licence number goes on to the building consent, which is good as it gives us a bit of clout in that sense, but also that LBP is the only person responsible for that job. If you’re using your license to sign off buildings, you need to be protected with errors and omissions insurance or a 10 year guarantee.”
RBJ Ltd uses Certified Builders’ Halo 10 year residential building guarantee, and wouldn’t build a home without it. “It’s a no brainer.”
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