You can have the best health and safety policies in the world – but unless staff actually use them, they won’t do much good.
That was the problem facing Steve Wilson, General Manager of Lower Hutt commercial signage company, Sign Foundry.
“Our health and safety policies and procedures were all written out, but they used to sit in a cupboard and weren’t being used or followed properly,” Steve says.
“For example, staff weren’t using their personal protective equipment when they went into the manufacturing room, like they were supposed to. That was a big issue for me because their wellbeing is important to me.”
The company sought advice from health and consultant Steve Logan, of SL Safety Consulting, who came up with ideas for making health and safety ‘simple and pragmatic’ by building it into the way people worked.
“Steve focused on practical things we can do – like keeping everyone’s PPE in drawers right beside the manufacturing room door, so it’s convenient to put on just before you go in.”
Sign Foundry, which also has operations in Auckland and Christchurch, has to deal with a broad range of risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of its staff. These include working at heights to install signs and working with chemicals. Staff also sometimes work under tight deadlines or in stressful situations – like when the company stayed open during last year’s Lockdown 4 to create Covid-19 signage for other essential businesses like supermarkets.
Since SL Safety Consulting came on board, Sign Foundry has been able to make some big improvements in health and safety really quickly, Steve says.
“We now do regular toolbox talks where people can speak up if they’ve seen something unsafe. And we have an incident reporting system that means we can catch issues early and deal with them before they cause bigger problems.
“We also do a lot more inspections on our gear, particularly our height and harness equipment.”
Another benefit is that Sign Foundry has been able to achieve the highest level of accreditation in the SiteWise scheme – a prequalification system that grades companies’ health and safety capabilities and is used by many large businesses when they are selecting suppliers.
“Previously, we had only managed to get SiteWise Orange accreditation. Moving up to Green accreditation has given us a real competitive advantage when pitching for work.”
But the biggest advantage is knowing staff are safer, Steve says.
“I can rest easy at night knowing that everyone will get home safe and sound every day.”
Other information There is an ACC subsidy to help SMEs in construction and manufacturing gain access to qualified health and safety professionals through the HASANZ register.