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July 2022

Health & Safety Challenges in 2022

27 Jun 2022, LBP & Regulation, Learn, Prove Your Know How

The chairman of Master Brick and Blocklayers NZ shares his considerations for the toolbox meeting

As we are all aware, the last 12 months have been very challenging for all sectors of our economy and the construction industry is no exception. The mandates around the various Covid iterations have had a significant impact on all areas of the construction workplace. 

The mental health impact of these Covid regulations needs to be given as much consideration as the regulations themselves. Licensed Building Practitioners should ensure it is discussed openly and regularly at toolbox meetings. Mental health has been part of the legislation for many years; however, it has often been sidelined over a focus on safety on site.

The importance of asking for help

Even as the make-up of the sector changes in a gender sense, a very blokey culture remains evident in many areas. The idea that it is a sign of weakness to ask for help when one is struggling to mentally cope with circumstances that are outside of their control still prevails with many.

Whether it’s staff shortages, consent delays, isolations, cash flow issues, cost rises, product shortages or transit delays, there isn’t a party in the sector who has not been impacted by many of these elements. The personal circumstances of many have resulted in one of the most challenging times in our history in respect to wellbeing.

I believe that it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, whether it’s a colleague, friend, or professional adviser – it’s a sign of wisdom and strength. Giving your team and yourself permission to acknowledge that the current environment has impacted our sense of wellness and wellbeing needs to be front and centre of these discussions.

There are several organisations doing great work in this area, with the aim of supporting the construction sector to address these matters and show that it is “ok to not be ok”. Within the toolbox talk space, we need to foster a culture that reminds us to look out for our mates – at work, in the community and within our families. Many of the sector’s associations provide resources to their members that help in managing this critical element of our workplace.

Resources available to start the conversation

WorkSafe has several documents available to assist starting these conversations, including:

  • Starting the conversation about mental health.
  • Mental health when working from home, for PCBUs.
  • Improving Work-Related Health: Mentally Healthy Work.
  • Resources for maintaining mentally healthy work during Covid-19.

The industry has also been very proactive through the Mates in Construction programme, both here and in Australia. Taking responsibility for our industry’s needs sends a strong signal that this really does matter. Again, there are some excellent resources available that allow you to start a direct conversation which, to many, is a challenging thing to do.

Many industry partners are also providing space for these key messages to be delivered to you and your team. 

Taking these steps is not, for want of a better term, “woke”. Case studies have shown a focus on health and wellbeing from an employer or PCBU leads to lower injury rates, thus less lost productivity
as a result. Knowing that their wellbeing matters to the business makes a difference to how they approach their roles and those in a leadership position.

The key message to be remembered is that “it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it is in fact a sign of wisdom”. Help is available – you only have to put your hand up and ask.

By Brian Miller – Chairman,
Master Brick and Blocklayers NZ.

 

This article is an excerpt from Codewords Issue 107. Reading Codewords articles that are relevant to your licence class is a mandatory requirement for Licensed Building Practitioners. These questions can be answered through the LBP portal, online at underconstruction.placemakers.co.nz or recorded on the magazine, then provided at the time of renewal.


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