Unitec takes out top national health and safety award

Press Release – Safeguard

Unitec takes out top national health and safety award

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Thursday 31 May 2018

Unitec Institute of Technology has taken overall honours at this year’s New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards.

Sixteen awards were presented at a gala dinner at SKYCITY Convention Centre in Auckland last night, where an audience of 600 celebrated a variety of successful health and safety initiatives and the people behind them.

The awards, which began in 2005, are organised by Safeguard magazine and proudly supported by WorkSafe New Zealand. The awards are judged by a panel of five representing WorkSafe, ACC, NZ Council of Trade Unions, Safeguard, and an industry health and safety practitioner.

Peter Bateman, convenor of the judging panel and editor of Safeguard, said the way Unitec dealt with the critical risk of having untrained students using up to 150 potentially dangerous machines in its new trade school building was well deserving of its win.

“Their automated card reader system controls each student’s access to particular machines, and requires each student to go through an online induction process and pass a test before access is permitted. The judges liked the way this approach designed out the risk of uncontrolled access, and felt this method could be adopted by others with trainees who require access to dangerous machinery.”

He said collectively, all the award winning initiatives demonstrate a fascinating range of engaging and collaborative approaches to health and safety.

“There is a big secret at the heart of health and safety. Far from being a dry and dull subject, it is actually driven by highly engaged people for the benefit of many. These initiatives simply represent the best of a huge range of activities being undertaken all around the country by people who really care. ”

The winners were:

The WorkSafe New Zealand/ACC best overall contribution to improving workplace health and safety in New Zealand

Unitec Institute of Technology

Kensington Swan best initiative to address a work-related safety risk

Naylor Love Construction
Found a simple engineering solution to eliminate the risk of items being dropped from swinging stage work platforms used on multi-storey buildings.

WorkSafe New Zealand best initiative to address a work-related health risk

Air New Zealand
The “Take Charge” programme intervenes early when staff report pain or discomfort below the threshold of an injury and has almost halved days lost due to manual handling injury.

Vitae best initiative to improve worker health

Wellington City Council
Its new wellbeing strategy focuses on four areas – nutrition/activity, mental wellbeing, musculoskeletal health, and smoking, drugs & alcohol use – and engages staff in the strategy via regular conversations with their managers.

NZ Safety Blackwoods best initiative to encourage worker involvement in health & safety

Moved from centralised control to a ‘leader as host’ philosophy, which has boosted trust and engagement in safety, created successful learning teams, and generated co-design initiatives.

3M best use of New Zealand design/technology

Unitec Institute of Technology
Students’ access to 150 high-risk machines is now controlled by an automated card reader and induction system.

Site Safe best health and safety initiative by a business of no more than 50 staff

Focus Construction
Identified 8 risks that had become normalised as acceptable. Responded by creating its own unique safety brand with visual icons to address each of the risks.

Impac best collaboration between PCBUs

Napier Port
Pre-vessel-arrival meetings, which include PCBUs involved in loading/unloading and those operating in the vicinity, have helped build enduring relationships and lifted accountability for managing risks.

Simpson Grierson best board level engagement in health & safety

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Created a board safety charter and a health & safety strategy which focuses on operational excellence, a wellbeing culture, and visible leadership. Reports to the board now reflect the true risk profile of diverse operations.

ACC best leadership of an industry sector or region

Has developed multiple guidelines for the electricity generation and supply sector, and forms working groups to address issues as they arise. Services as a model of sector collaboration in health & safety.

NZISM health and safety practitioner of the year

Terri Coopland, Mars Petcare
Developed a behavioural methodology which has been enthusiastically embraced by staff in an engagement process which has helped build a sustainable health & safety culture.

edenfx HSE Recruitment health & safety representative of the year

Joanne Thompson, Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand
Challenged to identify a problem and find a solution, she proposed a better way of keeping pedestrians and forklifts separated. She also created a safety induction video for new starters and contractors.

Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum leader of the year

Ray Smith, Department of Corrections
His transformative work within Corrections was acknowledged with the appointment of Corrections to lead a collaborative effort to transform the government sector into a leading force for better health & safety in New Zealand.

Countdown Lifetime Achievement Award

Sandra Johnston
For her commitment over many years to the field of psychological trauma and supporting the mental health of people at work who have been through or witnessed a traumatic event. As well as helping to lead the development of trauma response in New Zealand, she has also been at the front line delivering services to working people over more than 20 years. In doing so she has shone a light on the significance of mental health at work and the debilitating effects of psychological trauma on health, long after the initial incident.

Fonterra judges’ commendation awards went to:


For creating a programme which actively engages staff in wellbeing at work and at home, and also focuses people on ways to promote fairness, diversity and inclusion. Staff devise their own challenges using gamification.


For a highly consultative programme looking at four key behaviours, pictorial and carved representations of them, and storytelling opportunities to allow staff to better understand their collective role in the community.


Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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