An ex oil industry worker who arrived in this country with international H&S qualifications, and is now engaged with civil construction, talks about workplace safety opportunities.
WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and the setting up of new regulator WorkSafe in recent years, health and safety is more prominent than ever before.
It’s now been four years since the Report of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety focused on a “shift in attitude” towards health and safety in the country. At the same time the government published Towards 2020, a target to reduce work-related fatalities and serious injuries by at least 25 percent by 2020.
Latest data shows that two of the three indicators (fatal work-related injury and serious non-fatal work-related injury) that Towards 2020 monitors are well on track to achieve the government’s target.
So, while much has already been done, there remain many opportunities to make workplaces even safer and healthier for the people that work in them.
As a result, there is increasing demand for SHE (safety, health and environmental) practitioners as well as staff that have the skills to operate safely in the workplace. CareersNZ says the number of practitioners is insufficient to meet demand and that some employers are recruiting from overseas to fill their vacancies.
Ian Frame is one of those practitioners who has taken advantage of the employment opportunities that have arisen with H&S. Originally from Scotland, he made the move into health and safety during a long career in the oil and gas industry where he had been working on oil rigs since the early 1980s.
Several years ago he was asked by a colleague what qualifications he had to go with his role as an offshore safety training officer and the answer was none. It was only when global oil prices began to fall in 2014 that Ian really began to change his mind about becoming qualified. He saw high earning guys around him losing their jobs, and despite them having managed multiple rigs and offshore builds, many struggled to get a job in the industry because they had nothing against their name. Fast forward to 2017 and Ian now proudly holds four NEBOSH (National Examination Body in Occupational Safety and Health) qualifications and a fantastic job in New Zealand.
“Back then I’d see guys around me losing their jobs, and many struggled to get a job because they had nothing against their name,” he reflects.
“So I guess, as I entered my 50s, I kind of finally saw the light and realised if I ever wanted to work anywhere else, holding a NEBOSH qualification would help. So I started off by achieving the NEBOSH International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.”
NEBOSH is one of the world’s leading occupational health safety and environmental management awarding bodies. Its qualifications can help organisations and their people create safer and healthier workplaces in any industry. Even WorkSafe recognises the benefits of these qualifications and Health and Safety inspector Jane Birdsall has achieved the NEBOSH International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety. She was also the top performing candidate for the qualification in the 2016/17 year.
Ian moved to this country from the UK around 18 months ago and has since added three more NEBOSH qualifications to his achievements, reflecting qualifications relevant to our job market. He has now passed the Fire and Risk Management Certificate, Construction Certificate and Environmental Management Certificate.
With his qualifications Ian now finds himself at the forefront of health and safety opportunities in the country.
“These qualifications are really starting to catch on here and the knowledge gained through these qualifications gives people skills they can apply to any situation or workplace.”
Ian has secured management positions with infrastructure developer Fulton Hogan and, most recently, with Serco – a global service company managing over 500 contracts worldwide. He says that no matter how long you have done health and safety, there is always stuff you don’t know about.
Ian adds that formal qualifications and training are only part of the H&S story. From organisations and industry leaders to contractors and individual employees, everyone needs to take responsibility and push forwards for long-term improvements in workplace safety.
“Communication and a positive health and safety culture are crucial. Employees need to be empowered to put their new skills (whether acquired in formal training or in the workplace) into practice – and feel equally empowered to raise concerns and questions with their superiors.
“Health and safety needs to be seen as something that can drive efficiency and profitability as well as boosting employee engagement.”
Health and safety training not only impacts on the number of injuries and fatalities, but also provides a way of improving standards, achieving efficiency savings and even boosting profitability, he says.
“When training is rolled out to all levels of the workforce it can lead to a culture of health, safety and caring for fellow colleagues, leading to further benefits such as the retention of skilled and valuable workers. Health and safety training not only saves lives and reduces injuries, but can also bring a host of business benefits.”
WorkSafe’s 2014 report called Health and Safety Attitudes and Behaviours in the New Zealand Workforce: A Study of Workers and Employers says the highest risk industry sectors – agriculture, forestry, construction and manufacturing – appear complacent about health and safety and lacking in urgency about current accident/injury rates.
Looking at the progress made in reducing injuries and fatalities so far, early indicators are that attitudes and cultures are already beginning to change for the better, says Ian.
- Article supplied by supplied by Energy PR, UK.