Darwin’s Natural Selection at Its Best: ‘Opinion: Warnings are there to keep people safe’

Kristin Macfarlane’s article in the BOP Times Opinion: Warnings are there to keep people safe had me smiling, and then feeling sorry for all the emergency response personnel who have had to deal with ‘the batsh*t crazy’ and their off-spring over the festive season.

Here is a list of some of the top five actions/ incidents:

  1. An unspecified number of adults injured playing on children’s Christmas Toys: Emergency departments around the country reported an increase in scooter/bike/skateboard incidents as parents tried to relieve former sporting glory, despite factory warnings.
  2. Fireworks in Central Otago even when there is a complete fire ban
  3. People doing stupid things like driving their cars along the waterfront in Auckland and Tauranga during a king tide and monster storm, despite weather warnings. (NB. If the water is fast flowing and up to the rims of your tyres it’s enough to float your town car away).
  4. People drowning in our ocean, lakes and rivers, when a lifejacket could have saved them, despite NZ Coastguard’s Trading Old4New lifejacket programme.
  5. 19 people died in car accidents over the Christmas holiday period last year, which runs from 4 pm on 22 December until 6 am on 3 January, despite warnings to slow down, take it easy and watch fatigue.


What do these warnings have to do with workplace safety?

  1. If someone from your team was injured over the holidays, it’s time to talk to ACC and get a workplace rehabilitation plan in place. Make sure that they don’t make things worse while at work because then it becomes your problem.
  2. If someone died over the festive season, watch your team carefully to see if anyone is not coping and needs support as they move through their grieving process.
  3. Review your ‘Warning Signs’ do you need any additional signage:
    • Emergency exit signs, fire extinguisher, first aid and emergency assembly point
    • No unauthorised entry
    • Hazardous substances
    • Personal Protective Equipment Signage
    • Traffic Management (Forklift, speed limit etc.)
  4. Review your HR Disciplinary / Warning Policy; does everyone understand the consequences of not following HSE signs and protocols? Are your supervisors trained to complete the process?
  5. Understand that people don’t always ‘get it’ the first time which is why reviewing your safety management system and making sure everyone’s training is up to date is a critical part of your workplace health and safety programme.


What next?

If getting your workplace health and safety sorted for 2018 is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, give me call on 0272 007 680, I’d be happy to a confidential, no charge discussion how you can create a meaningful health and safety system at your place.

For my existing clients, batten down the hatches, and heed the warnings, I’ll be in touch to schedule your annual review in the next few weeks.

Bring on 2018, it’s going to be a great year.




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