Make your workplace Move like Jagger
OPINION: Workplace safety extends far beyond the absolutely necessary compliance regulations that are now in force.
If employers are to keep workers safe and well, there's no a magic button to press or single thing to do to reduce injuries. Instead we need to tackle a number of areas that all interlink.
These areas are: leadership and engagement; safety management systems; operational safety delivery; wellbeing; and injury management.
Too often I see businesses that think that simply putting in a safety management system – that is, policies and procedures – will keep people safe or meet the firm's obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Keeping people safe at work is about engagement and behaviour, and employers need to do more than just have the systems in place.
It is very important for management to "walk the talk" and demonstrate authentic leadership. Get your employees involved in safety and show them that working safely is important to the chief executive and at all levels within the organisation.
It's great when employers are open to critically evaluating their own behaviour and the underlying messages relating to safety and the workplace culture. From this, strategies have to be developed to support the culture they want in the business.
Managers need support and coaching in how to engage with staff to promote the changing of behaviour. Telling people "not to do it" will never work in the long term – it only works for a short time.
Regular safety conversations and active engagement with your workforce help to evolve your safety culture to one where everybody looks out for each other.
It's about showing you care – the little things are just as important as the big programmes you run to support wellbeing. Show you care about your people and deliver ways of engaging them in managing their own wellbeing.
For instance, smallgoods manufacturer Hellers has introduced a daily programme of moves and stretches set to music for its production staff.
Hellers has plants in Christchurch and Auckland, and recently began exporting to Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Many of Hellers' staff are involved in physical and repetitive jobs, so the stretching programme aims to reduce discomfort and manual handling injuries. Already the severity and number of injuries has reduced.
The initiative, which has been running for six months, is dubbed Moves@Hellers and aims to ensure production staff are warmed up for the day ahead.
The company brought in a personal trainer to lead the exercises on the floor, and chose music to support the initiative – the first song used was Maroon 5's Moves like Jagger and managers were active in supporting the moves.
Stretches are limited to those exercises that can be performed in wet floor environments, and allow for protective equipment including plastic aprons and gumboots to be worn.
This initiative is a prime example of what good employers can do to promote wellbeing and safety. In this instance it targets the common causes of discomfort and fatigue, which can be as simple as moving your feet to prevent manual handling injuries.
We don't see the All Blacks or the Crusaders go out on the field without warming up – so why do we think it is OK to go straight down on the floor and start work without stretching?
Carole Peterson is a health and safety specialist consultant to HR company Brannigans and also works with Hellers.