Workplace safety campaign not getting unanimous support

April 13, 2018

Workplace safety campaign not getting unanimous support

A new media campaign is attempting to educate people about workplace bullying. Photo: Supplied

A new campaign by New Zealand workplace health and safety regulator encourages Kiwis to “get talking” in a fight to make workplaces safer.

Founded in the wake of the 2010 Pike River Coal Mine tragedy WorkSafe aims to lift the country’s standards of health and safety and reduce work-related harm for Kiwi workers.

The integrated media campaign, ‘Use Your Mouth’, launched earlier this month as a way to educate viewers on how to identify and discuss issues such as bullying, fatigue, manual handling or noise at work.

Jude Urlich, Worksafe’s General Manager of Strategy and Performance, says while the campaign is lighthearted and likeable, the underlying concept was no joke.

“Creating working environments where workers feel safe and are encouraged to speak up about risks is critical to improving health and safety outcomes in New Zealand,” she says.

Shot in a series of locations from cafes to milking sheds, the 30-second videos are themed like sports commentary bits and hosted by fictional characters ‘Pat Silverwood’ and ‘Joe Munro’.

The microphone-welding duo, dressed in matching purple blazers, exchange witty banter as they give viewers a play-by-play of workers speaking out about workplace hazards.

The ‘fatigue’ video shows Silverwood and Munro sitting atop a plastic cow as they describe the tiredness that early mornings at the milking shed can cause.

“Textbook delivery!” Munro calls out as the farm-hand approaches her superior to discuss her fatigue.

The series carries on the highly successful ‘Use Your Mouth’ campaign that WorkSafe launched in April 2017 which similarly encouraged think and act on workplace risks.

New Zealand has a target of reducing fatal and serious non-fatal work-related injury by 25 per cent by 2020.

Latest data suggests that interim targets have been met with the fatal injury rate for the three years to 2016 at 2.1 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

However New Zealand’s fatality rate continues to sit higher than similar countries like Australia and the United Kingdom.

Kiwis’ common practice of continuing work when sick or injury contributing to a relatively high level of acute and chronic harm across international standards.

With six work-related fatalities reported this year in January and February alone it’s clear that help is needed.

However, not everyone believes WorkSafe’s campaign is the help that New Zealander’s need.

E tū’s health and safety coordinator, Fritz Drissner says he was “disappointed” by the videos, because they made light of the often-difficult confrontation between colleagues and superiors.

“They made it sound really easy, but it’s hard for people to do and possibly have to live with the consequences,” says Mr Drissner.

Disappointment aside, the integrated campaign will feature on digital channels, radio and social media as well as outdoor executions. Bringing audiences on all platforms Pat Silverwood’s lighthearted advice to use your mouth and “get talking”.

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