• KeithH
    110
    Why are we still killing our workersSteve H

    Define "we" Steve. Who is "we"? Once the "we" is identified, then each how may be more apparent so solutions to each why can be explored.
  • Steve H
    267
    Keith, I have to think "We" is all of us, as many have said, we can't impose "safety" on those below, we can't eradicate "stupid" and very few are working with unlimited budgets. Sheri makes some very valid points about giving workers the tools to do their own risk assessments but owners/directors/managers need education, support and encouragement to do what they can. And that may well mean,ceasing operations, and listening to their staff, particularly departing staff.

    Part of the solution has to be a better funded regulator, ring fencing the fines that they successfully impose.has to be a part of that, but like the health system, more boots on the ground than bums on chairs in the PR department will achieve more tangible results.So some increase in funding will be needed.

    Finally, I firmly believe Parliament needs to revisit the ACC legislation, it is one of the differences between NZ and other roughly similar jurisdictions, exactly what any changes (if any) should take place are the province of due process, but the ACC legislation isn't the same animal that was originally proposed or enacted.
  • KeithH
    110
    @Steve H I acknowledge your points but I'm going to ask you two slightly different questions.

    How are the workers being killed? and
    Why are workers being killed?

    For me, until I know how the workers are being killed, I cannot establish details about why they were killed. Once both have been established, the contributing factors can be identified with unemotive recommendations for improvements.
    It could be that improvements may be implementation of existing clauses of legislation or regulations. It could also be that improvements may require changes to existing or creation of new legislation or regulations.

    I don't take a punitive approach since experience has shown me it achieves little - generally it creates a negative effect.
    So for me, until I how the factors that contributed to an incident, I can't begin to identify what needs to change (if anything) to improve the business practices.

    I leave alone what I cannot change and focus on what I can utilise. I would like to see changes but I have to work in the here and now.
    Currently, all I do is use the cards I have been dealt, review other countries (primarily the US, UK and Canada) activities and interpretations, and use overseas ideas and NZ legislation and methods to place H&S alongside Environmental Management and Quality Control as integrated policies, processes and procedures for businesses to incorporate into their practices.
  • MattD2
    291
    How are the workers being killed?KeithH
    Because they do not have the resources they need for the work (time, tools, materials, training, supervision and mentoring, workers and spare capacity to allow time off without impacting others, etc.
    and, Why are workers being killed?
    Because our current economics system drives businesss to continously "improve" efficiency of work using financial profit maximisation as its main KPI.
  • Steve H
    267
    Because our current economics system drives businesss to continously "improve" efficiency of work using financial profit maximisation as its main KPI.MattD2

    And would that change if company officers potentially could face Corporate Manslaughter charges?

    It could be that improvements may be implementation of existing clauses of legislation or regulations. It could also be that improvements may require changes to existing or creation of new legislation or regulations.

    I don't take a punitive approach since experience has shown me it achieves little - generally it creates a negative effect.
    KeithH

    The problem with not taking a punitive approach Keith is evident in the appalling driving standards you'll witness daily on our roads, quite apart from speeding, sit and watch an intersection controlled by stop signs and see how many fail to come to a complete stop and check the intersecting road is clear in both directions, or the number of folk yapping on cell phones or updating their social media.
  • MattD2
    291
    And would that change if company officers potentially could face Corporate Manslaughter charges?Steve H
    My opinion - I don't think so.
    Corporate Manslaughter legislation is likely to be too rare of an occurrence to cause any sort of real deterrent (i.e. "it will never happen to us" mentality), especially to the boards of the types of companies the laws are generally pitched at targeting. And in fact they could have potential negative (unintended) consequences if it drives business owners / boards even further towards a compliance mentality and to focus more on statutory risks rather than operational risks, i.e. focusing on limiting liability when an incident does occur rather than managing risks developing into an incident in the first place.

    One issue with a stronger "legislation is the answer" mindset is, in an economic system where resource allocation is based on maximising an allegory measure of "societal good" (i.e. the profit motive, GDP, continual economic growth, etc.), that no matter what additional consequences are put in place the final question will inevitably be "what is the return on investment?" (even if it is not specifically those words) - with regards to legislative safety requirements it becomes either "do we really have to do this?" or "what is the lowest compliance we can get away with?" because any resources not spent on those things can be seen to be put to "better use" elsewhere to either grow the business or provide better returns to the shareholders.
    And just to be clear this isn't a "corporations are greedy, unfeeling monsters" attitude, rather it's to call out that this is the system those businesses operate in - that if they don't make those hard decisions and continue to "improve" to ensure they stay profitable / grow, the inevitable is another business will out compete them by doing so. It is the reason why when answering the question of "what is reasonably practicable" so much of the effort is spent looking at what other companies (our competitors) are doing rather than what our company could do.

    Potentially it is a case that we have got as far as we reasonably can within the current paradigm - and that we should be more concerned that all western countries seem to have hit the "safety plateau", rather than that NZ's plateau is higher than any other country's. Leading to the question being more to consider what could be the next societal shift that will have a significant broad impact on safety?
  • Steve H
    267
    rather than that NZ's plateau is higher than any other country's.MattD2

    And that's the rub that sees us nail more workers with either death or as bad, a serious accident that they either don't fully recover from, or spend a long time in recovery. I don't disagree that CMS charges may not be the answer to close that gap, but I am certain more/better enforcement will.

    Interesting that Ports Of Auckland and their CEO (at the time of the last workers death there) have already been charged by Maritime New Zealand in relation to that workers death. They appear to take a much more proactive approach to workplace deaths/serious injury, than their colleagues working with the same legislation at WorkSafe
  • KeithH
    110
    Steve H
    265
    Because our current economics system drives businesss to continously "improve" efficiency of work using financial profit maximisation as its main KPI.
    — MattD2

    And would that change if company officers potentially could face Corporate Manslaughter charges?

    It could be that improvements may be implementation of existing clauses of legislation or regulations. It could also be that improvements may require changes to existing or creation of new legislation or regulations.

    I don't take a punitive approach since experience has shown me it achieves little - generally it creates a negative effect.
    — KeithH

    The problem with not taking a punitive approach Keith is evident in the appalling driving standards you'll witness daily on our roads, quite apart from speeding, sit and watch an intersection controlled by stop signs and see how many fail to come to a complete stop and check the intersecting road is clear in both directions, or the number of folk yapping on cell phones or updating their social media.
    Steve H

    No disrespect @Steve H and @MattD2 but I believe you are heading on tangents.
    Matt, I see the why but not the how. I see solutions to undefined causes. As I said before, once I know how, I can identify the why to realise solutions.
    Steve, I read risk homeostasis theory by Gerald Wilde some time ago. It comes the closet (for me) to explain why people do what they do and thus (for me) offers a possible and effective long term solution.

    Just my thoughts
  • Aaron Marshall
    89
    Lets face it though, We, as a country simply put money ahead of safety, in every aspect of life.

    How many people's first car purchase took safety into account?
    How many of us would rather do a job at home rather than pay someone else to do it, without giving further thought into whether we can do the job safely?
    How many of us do things in our private lives that we would never be able to do at work?

    Workplace deaths require a culture change, which doesn't happen overnight, and rarely happen due to legislation change. What it does require is a desire to change.
  • Andrew
    341
    Today's thought
    un8mml2mxxxc7a1f.jpg
  • Steve H
    267
    Lets face it though, We, as a country simply put money ahead of safety, in every aspect of life.

    How many people's first car purchase took safety into account?
    How many of us would rather do a job at home rather than pay someone else to do it, without giving further thought into whether we can do the job safely?
    How many of us do things in our private lives that we would never be able to do at work?

    Workplace deaths require a culture change, which doesn't happen overnight, and rarely happen due to legislation change. What it does require is a desire to change.
    Aaron Marshall

    Why do you think that money proceeds safety Aaron? Matt & Andrew's argument appears to be that we're already spending enough to cover off safety in the workplace, and that being the case it's acceptable to have collateral damage of 50- 60 workplace deaths, and 2200plus serious harm accidents each year (with the serious harm stats steadily growing)
  • Aaron Marshall
    89

    I've got no idea why. Possibly something to do with our "DIY" attitude.
    But, I agree - companies simply throwing more money at safety isn't the solution (generally). Far more will change when we all put safety ahead of lives.
    How often, after an accident do people come out and say something along the lines of "we knew something like this was going to happen"?
  • Andrew
    341

    I havent said "we are spending enough to cover off safety in the workplace". Nor did I say collateral damage is acceptable.

    I have said we ought to become better informed about a particular death before forming views on preventing such deaths.

    And I have suggested that the law of diminishing returns may be in play. Beautifully illustrated in the hand crafted graph I posted above.
  • Steve H
    267
    Steve, I read risk homeostasis theory by Gerald Wilde some time ago. It comes the closet (for me) to explain why people do what they do and thus (for me) offers a possible and effective long term solution.KeithH

    Just been reading a paper by Wilde on that Keith, it is an interesting explanation of the paradox of spending money to achieve a positive change in one area only to see a reciprocal rise in a negative aspect somewhere else- calls into question Waka Kotahi's spending on advertising it's Road To Zero target (197 Million), along with the infamous WS Meerkat ads.(2.7 Million)

    Similarly, the target level of risk is seen as the controlling variable in the causation dynamic of the injury rate. It follows that the basic strategy of injury prevention should be to reduce
    the level of risk that people are willing to accept.
    Gerald J S Wilde

    Some fag packet calculations, 50 workplace deaths = 300 Million per year, the 2200 serious harm accidents are a bit more problematic, but for the sake of conjecture, let's say each SH accident is half of the lost opportunity cost of a WP death of 6 million. So that would be around 6,600 Million per year for serious harm accidents.(I do realize that isn't a single year total, but we keep adding to that cost each year with subsequent deaths/serious harm accidents)

    Could be kind of interesting to see what could be achieved if we were to spend 50% of that total each year to reduce the level of risk that collectively we're prepared to accept, over two or three years.
  • Andrew
    341
    Your model is incorrect. The economic value of a human life, of say $6m is over the entire life time of that human.

    Lets say a SH has an impact over one year or 1/45 of a working life. That brings a value of $134,000. And if there are 2,200 serious harm incidents then a total value of $294m

    If you suggest we spend half on injury prevention (or say $150m) where would we be?

    If we added up the sum total of investments employers make in safety management I suspect we would well exceed that figure. ACC contributed $27m alone. And they say they get a $1.3 return for every dollar spent
  • Steve H
    267
    What about the previous years serious harm accidents, the year before that, remembering that we've been knocking off 50-60 workers on average each year for many years, likewise serious accidents, and while some victims of a SH accident may make a full recovery in a single year, some will take longer than a year, and some may not ever fully recover.

    ACC is focused on getting these folk off their books, by hook or crook (I had several ACC sponsored attendees at a Test & Tag course I used to run- many were either physically unfit or had memory issues, one guy bailed by morning tea, claiming it was too much for him)

    And you are ignoring the cost of deaths, but using your figure of $294M and the death cost of $300M, would give us around $300M to play with (using half of that total), I would plug $150M into advertising (sans Meerkats please), trying for that attitudinal shift that Keith's reference indicates is a big ask, the other $150M needs to go into WorkSafe's investigation/prosecution budget along with fines, generated by successful prosecutions.

    It's interesting to dig unto ACC's budgets and reports, when you read that they had 1300 death claims for workplace induced illnesses, I think the question I posed in the title of this thread stands, and needs to be addressed.
  • Steve H
    267
    The latest worker not to make it home

    A man who died in a central Auckland workplace incident on Tuesday was crushed by timber while unloading at a construction site, according to a witness.

    Police said they were called to the worksite site on Grey St, Onehunga, about 12.50pm where a worker had died.

    Neighbours said roughly three ambulances and six police units were on the street shortly after 1pm, outside the worksite where a block of flats is being built.

    Police said WorkSafe NZ had been notified of the incident. Jones said an Occupational Safety and Health vehicle arrived at the site around 4pm.
    Stuff-Nathan Morton15:27, Jun 22 2022

    Previous worker, not coming home again.

    A 55-year-old man who died in a workplace accident at Jeff Farm at Kaiwera on Wednesday had worked at the farm for several years.

    Jeff Farm, on Old Coach Road between Mataura and Clinton, is owned by the Salvation Army.
    Stuff-Rachael Kelly15:14, Jun 16 2022

    The workplace death before that

    Man in his 30s killed in workplace accident in rural AucklandStuff- Melanie Earley14:06, Jun 01 2022

    A person has died after falling from height near the fruit-picking hub of Motueka.

    Emergency services were called to a workplace incident in the Moutere area, in the Tasman District, at around 2.30 on Wednesday afternoon.
    Stuff- Amber Allott20:20, May 18 2022

    Police have named the man killed in a workplace incident in Gisborne last week.

    Maurice Dooling, 47, died on Jukes Carriers Stanley Rd in Awapanui around 11.15am on Wednesday, April 13.
    Stuff- Marty Sharpe07:57, Apr 20 2022

    And the man whose workplace death started this thread off

    The family of an “incredible father” fatally crushed while loading a ship at Lyttelton Port never want the same thing to happen to anyone else.

    Donald Grant, aged in his 70s, died at Christchurch’s Lyttelton Port on April 25 while loading the ship ETQ Aquarius at Cashin Quay.
    Christchurch reporter17:00, May 06 2022
  • MattD2
    291
    And that's the rub that sees us nail more workers with either death or as bad, a serious accident that they either don't fully recover from, or spend a long time in recovery. I don't disagree that CMS charges may not be the answer to close that gap, but I am certain more/better enforcement will.Steve H
    My point regarding that was even if the NZ statistics were a sixth of what they are now, and less than those of countries we normally compare ourselves against, would we not still be asking the same question of why are we still killing our workers after each high profile death? I agree with your points that under the current regime we need to look at the levers that may shift the return on investment in "safety" towards a reduction in the total number of workers killed, and that may bring down our statistics to (directly) killing only (say for argument's sake) 20 workers a year as apposed to 68 per year. Which would be great that 48 workers didn't die because of work, but what about those remaining 20 - will it be ok to tell their families not to worry because at least 2 other workers didn't die as well? And when they ask why it was their family member, are we not back to the fact that the answers is "that's just the new accepted value for the human cost of doing business"? That unfortunately their loved one was the unfortunate one that fell on the wrong side of the return on investment (bottom line)?

    But also acknowledging the positive of not having to have that same conversation with those 48 other families - which is why you are right that we still need put in the effort in the short term (even if it is less effective) and not just push it off as we're never going to be good enough so why bother (trying to ward of anyone thinking I am advocating for a zero harm mentality?).

    Matt & Andrew's argument appears to be that we're already spending enough to cover off safety in the workplace, and that being the case it's acceptable to have collateral damage of 50- 60 workplace deaths, and 2200plus serious harm accidents each year (with the serious harm stats steadily growing)Steve H
    As @Andrew has said - no we are not saying this. But an interesting thought is that there are in fact some situations where injury (and even death) is accepted as a potential outcome of work, such as jobs in the military, police, or even healthcare. The common aspect to this "acceptance" is that the work is primarily considered as required for the benefit of our society as a whole, rather than for the profits of an individual. So what would it look like if all work was organised where maximising the benefit to society as a whole is the primary KPI used to allocate our resources?
  • Steve H
    267
    Matt, every day in New Zealand, someone gets told their particular version of cancer particularly, but many, many other illnesses are not treatable with publicly funded drug treatments, so we do already accept that life has a price in this country.

    We are just as unlikely to get to zero in workplaces, just as much as road deaths, but that shouldn't stop us from having a target to aim, with the intention that we want to have a smaller total each year, as there is some crossover with these two groups, improving safety on our roads should help diminish the number of workplace deaths.

    But an interesting thought is that there are in fact some situations where injury (and even death) is accepted as a potential outcome of work, such as jobs in the military, police, or even healthcare. The common aspect to this "acceptance" is that the work is primarily considered as required for the benefit of our society as a whole, rather than for the profits of an individual.MattD2
    As a former Navy boy, part of the deal in signing up and swallowing the Queens Shilling, is that you accept that from time to time, you are going to be in harms way, likewise the same is true for Police. Can't speak for healthcare, but in a properly run/funded system, the likelihood of a workplace death should be very, very low there.
  • Alan Boswell
    14
    I'm not sure what the answer is, but I do know we have to figure it out, and soon. I've just read an article from MyOsh concerning work related fatalities from the UK - 123 workers in 2021/2022, and they are not yet satisfied (nor should they be). NZ in 2021/2022 saw 63 work related fatalities. But lets put that into perspective; the UK has a working population of around 32,475,000 people (ons.gov.uk) and we have around 2,826,000 (stats.govt.nz). The UK have a little over 11 times the working population of NZ, and only twice as many fatalities. After six years of new legislation, new regulators/regulation, heightened awareness, more seminars and conferences than you can shake a stick at, we have not improved as far as I can see, at all. Indeed we have dropped further behind if we compare our performance to other countries. When I started work in this industry we used to try and stir people into action by telling workers that we killed people at a rate of almost 4 times that of the UK. That figure is now nearly 6.
    Rant over!
    I think we are trying to hard to fix a problem that we do not yet understand the causes of. We need to work out why we are so bad at looking after our workforce before we come up with some corrective actions.
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If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.