From its vast mountain ranges, its unique wildlife and its rich tourism industry, New Zealand is a country of great natural and cultural splendor. With its largest industries including agriculture, horticulture, fishing and mining – potentially hazardous industries involving dangerous machinery and occupational risks – the need for safety and health training for workers is of paramount importance.
Between December 2018 and November 2019, there were 86 workplace fatalities in New Zealand, the majority of which were in the agricultural sector. Near-misses are also far too common – there were over 30,000 workplace injuries in the country between May 2018 and April 2019 that resulted in significant time off work, according to workplace health and safety regulator WorkSafe.
Premier Safety NZ Ltd. is a safety consultancy run by occupational safety and health specialist Gerard Luby. After attaining a National Certificate in Health and Safety at Work in 2006 and a First-Class Honours Diploma in Safety, Health and Welfare at Work in 2010, Gerard worked in Ireland providing hazard and risk management advice, auditing services, Incident investigation, safety compliance and guidance on manual handling, before embarking on a new adventure in New Zealand in 2015. Premier Safety focuses on providing health and safety consultation and advanced training methods such as virtual reality. They provide training and consultancy to a wide variety of industries: from fuel providers; food processors; the agricultural sector; the motor industry; construction; and beyond.
Gerard is working with The Parallel in London, UK to develop virtual reality training that is built in conjunction with the client to help mitigate against hazardous situations where they are experiencing challenges managing safety. As a Graduate Member of IOSH and the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management, as well as an accredited practitioner with the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand, Gerard has dedicated his professional life to training workers on the importance of good safety and health in the workplace – vital knowledge that can mean the difference between life and death. “Incidences of workplace accidents and fatalities are far too high,” Gerard says. “The ‘she will be alright attitude’ needs to be addressed and replaced by a greater focus on strategies related to awareness programs and training that puts an emphasis on achieving safer workplaces by promoting positive safety attitudes.”
Managing Safely, IOSH’s market-leading health and safety course for line managers, is among the suite of training products Premier Safety delivers, helping workplaces to improve their understanding of safety and health and embed this knowledge firmly into their organisational structures and strategies. “Managing Safely is structured in a way that induces learning and positive outcomes.
It is learner-friendly and is focused on the core aspects of what is needed to achieve a safe workplace,” Gerard says. “The course recognises and supports the need for continuous development and promotion of the health and safety message and provides managers and supervisors with the mechanisms to achieve a safe workplace whilst understanding that worker inclusion is a vital component of a successful safety management system.” Delegates have responded positively to the course, highlighting how its structure is applicable to their workplace.
“Each delegate felt empowered to advance the safety message at their workplace and as a result of the course became aware of focus areas within their workplace that they needed to address on their return,” Gerard explains. With a higher number of workplace fatalities in New Zealand in 2019 than 2018, more work needs to be done to improve workplace safety and health practices and train managers and workers in safer working. Building a strong safety culture within a business is a significant step in the right direction. “People are the most important asset for any business,” Gerard says.
“We need to focus more on our people, their attributes and the value that can bring to workplace safety awareness, situational awareness, behavioural awareness and ultimately safety culture.”