Interview with Craig about SafePlus

All About People’s Craig Macdonald is a SafePlus Accredited Assessor. He works with New Zealand businesses to identify areas where Health and Safety is being done well, and areas where it can be improved. Here, we learn more about who he is and what he is able to do for your organisation.

How long have you been supporting organisations with their Health and Safety, and what are the three most common issues you’ve encountered over this time?

I have been working with a number of organisations to help them improve their health and safety for 20 plus years, both as an employee and as an independent Consultant.  The three most common issues I regularly find are:

  • A compliance focus by managers and business owners
  • A poor understanding of risk and how it is managed
  • A lack of engagement with employees

This in turn leads to a lack of understanding on what health and safety in the workplace really is and the perception that it is all about ‘Compliance’ and ‘Cost’.

My approach is to help organisations think about safety differently, and to better engage with employees, improving their internal ability to manage safety and people.

WorkSafe seem to be looking at safety differently. Can you explain what their approach is?

Safety Differently is taking the current negative approach to health and safety (e.g. find what is wrong, people are problems etc.), to one where people are solutions, 99% of the time people work safely, and there is an internal drive to ‘get things right’.  Traditionally, the more we see ‘going wrong’, the more rules we put in place, the more restrictive health and safety becomes, the more focus on compliance etc. The result is people think less, and ‘just follow the rules’.

This sounds similar to the approach being taken by WorkSafe with SafePlus. How will it be implemented in real terms?

WorkSafe’s SafePlus programme focuses on three themes – Leadership, Engagement and Risk Management.

On the ground, the SafePlus programme focuses on each of these themes in a very practical way by talking to Directors, Managers, Employees and Contractors, and looking at how safety is being applied at the frontline. This then identifies what is working well in your business, and also identifies the areas of improvement.  What you get are comprehensive recommendations that will give you a good basis for improvement (i.e. what is going to make the biggest and most influential difference in your business).

What SafePlus is not is the traditional compliance audit (e.g. just looks at processes and documented evidence).

So, the outcome will be a cultural shift in New Zealand when thinking about Health and Safety. This is not a bad thing at all! How will All About People be supporting clients in this?

As a company we are already there, and this has been our focus for many years. As a qualified Independent Assessor, and with access to a small pool of other approved assessors, I won’t be doing it alone. I am also lucky to have a very knowledgeable and friendly team back in the office that support me operationally. All About People also have the ability to work with these companies after the Assessment to help them to correct and improve areas that have been identified as weaknesses. We provide advice, operational support and training to our clients every day.

That sounds like a perfect arrangement! I’ve been looking into your background a bit. You were a Volunteer Firefighter as well? How long were you doing that and why?

I was with Fire and Emergency New Zealand for over 16 years, and rose to the rank of Station Officer.  I joined for two reasons. Firstly to get to know people in my community, and secondly to help.  I was at one of the busiest Volunteer stations in the country with more than 600 calls per year, and approximately 60% of them were medical related. It was extremely rewarding knowing we made a difference.  It was not about us being Firefighters; it was about being able to respond to people or families who might have been in extreme distress, and helping them. I don’t know if it is a good thing or not, but my two sons have been or are Volunteers also and it has been amazing watching them develop into great human beings.

It sounds like you have a heart for people. This will work well in the SafePlus world. Thank you for your time Craig.