Minister applauds EQC health and safety accoladeEarthquake Commission
Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee has congratulated EQC Health and Wellbeing Manager Alison Murphy on being awarded the NZ Institute of Safety Management (NZISM) Health and Safety Practitioner of the Year at The New Zealand Workplace Health & Safety Awards 2014.
“I took great pleasure in phoning Alison yesterday evening to add my congratulations for the well-deserved recognition of her peers,” Mr Brownlee says.
The Workplace Health & Safety Awards are open to all organisations in New Zealand.
“Alison was recognised as a key person behind the development of systems to protect EQC field staff working in Canterbury, in particular the development of the Safe6 programme focusing on the six most significant risks facing home repair contractors, and an EQC programme to monitor injury data and feed trend analysis back to where it is needed,” Mr Brownlee says.
“EQC and Fletcher EQR developed the Safe6 ‘rules to live by’ to manage risks to those working on the Canterbury Home Repair Programme.
“These include falls, working in confined spaces, electrical danger, motor vehicle danger, personal threats, and exposure to asbestos.
“Their goal was to see everyone on their workforce gets home safely each night, and recognition of their innovation and high standards is richly rewarded,” Mr Brownlee says.
At the awards Alison acknowledged her team’s efforts, and articulated strongly the challenges EQC staff face on a daily basis. She acknowledged the work that EQC field teams and the commission’s health and safety committee have undertaken in recent years to transform EQC’s health and safety practices and systems, and spoke about how leadership from the top of EQC down has made a difference to the organisation's health and safety culture.
On recent claims that Canterbury homeowners whose properties were damaged in the earthquakes have potentially been put at risk from exposure to asbestos, Mr Brownlee says safety has always been at the forefront of EQC’s efforts in dealing with its customers.
“This has been recognised and reinforced by this week’s award.
“EQC maintains that from the outset the Canterbury Home Repair Programme, managed by Fletcher EQR, has managed identification and handling of asbestos in a way that complies with or exceeds what is required by the Health and Safety in Employment Act.
“EQC firmly believes the Canterbury Home Repair Programme has not exposed Canterbury residents to any more risk than anyone else in New Zealand where work on asbestos-containing materials is being carried out in homes.
“I applaud EQC and Fletcher EQR for introducing practices and standards in repairing houses that exceed guidelines issued by the relevant authorities, including introducing mandatory testing.
“EQC and Fletcher EQR have shared their knowledge with WorkSafe and previous regulators throughout in developing these practices and standards.
“Contractors have been required from the beginning of the Canterbury Home Repair Programme to comply with all legal and regulatory obligations relating to health and safety.
“EQC’s position is that the improvements it and Fletcher EQR have made make the programme one of the best examples of asbestos investigation and management in New Zealand.”