2018/19 Interns feel the force

As part of a series of agency field trips, the health and safety summer interns were recently hosted by the New Zealand Defence Force and Transpower New Zealand.

On 11 January, the interns took a road trip to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base at Ohakea, where defence and search and rescue functions are based.

They interns were treated to a full tour of the airbase. They met and spoke with 3 Squadron, the RNZAF’s sole Rotary Wing Transport Force; 42Squadron, who operate four Beech King Air K-350 trainers; and 14 Squadron, where all RNZAF pilots are trained before going on to either fixed or rotary wing training.

On the visit, the interns gained a good appreciation of the high level of training crew are given and the emphasis that is placed on good health and safety practice.

In addition to training, huge amounts of servicing and maintenance is carried out on the highly specialised equipment. The staff demonstrated the tight processes and procedures followed to ensure health and safety, which is ingrained into everything they do.

Government Health and Safety Lead intern, Sarah Yzendoorn, said it was an amazing experience to step in the world of the RNZAF.

“We were lucky to spend the day with the team at Ohakea, and get up close and personal with their planes and helicopters. It was fantastic  to see how strong the sense of community is on base; they all look out for each and take health and safety extremely seriously. They see it as a real team effort” said Sarah.

On 22 January, Craig Baxter, Head of Health and Safety at Transpower, gave the interns a tour of the Control Room at the national office, where the national electricity grid is monitored.

The interns had an opportunity to learn about how to manage critical risks in high-risk environments, such as working from height on transmission towers, and working around high-voltage equipment and machinery.

Next stop was the Haywards Substation, a key part of the national grid where direct current electricity produced at Benmore in the South Island is converted for use. The interns donned head-to-toe safety gear, and had the opportunity to see the high risks close up (but not too close). The staff at Haywards are very passionate about their job and consider safety as paramount, weaving it into everything they do.

Priyanka Gahlot, Health and Safety Intern at the New Zealand Customs Service, said what really stood out to her was the positive safety culture across the organisation.

“The visit to Transpower headquarters and Haywards substation gave me an insight into how workplace health and safety is managed at Transpower. The H&S team focuses on positive indicators such as safety by design, training and advance planning; employment relations and put emphasis on hard controls, such as PPE to eliminate and manage risks.

“It was clear that the whole team was passionate about promoting a culture of health and safety across the organisation, and that was really inspiring.”

The interns finish their internships at the end of February. Still on the agenda are workshops and site visits hosted by NZISM, MSD, Oranga Tamariki, Impac, Housing NZ, IRD, and a visit to the Wellington Port and Airport with Customs.