Inaugural worker engagement conference a success

Over 350 health and safety representatives, practitioners and senior managers from the state sector attended a conference on 10 May, focusing on and celebrating worker engagement in health and safety.

Thirty-eight state sector agencies were represented at the Unleashing the Power of Engagement – Employee Engagement in Health and Safety conference. Speakers on the day included the Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Glenn Barclay, National Secretary PSA, Nicole Rosie, Chief Executive WorkSafe New Zealand, Strachan Crang, Head of Business Transformation and Peter Buckley, Mechanical Engineer from KiwiRail, and Tania Palmer, General Manager People and Safety, Contact Energy.

While all presentations were well received, Andrew Kibblewhite, Chief Executive Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Lt Gen Tim Keating, Chief of Defence Force’s presentation on mental health was of particular interest to the sector. The New Zealand Defence Force have agreed to work with the Government Health and Safety Lead to adapt their resources about mental health for the public service.

During the conference, six employee representative finalists were awarded Spirit of Service, Health and Safety Representative Awards. The finalists were nominated by their peers and demonstrated both enthusiasm and commitment to health and safety within their organisations.

Claire Wooldrige-Way, Department of Conservation, was awarded the overall Spirit of Service, Health and Safety Representative of the Year Award 2018, for her service to her colleagues after the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2017.

The judges felt that Claire demonstrated a commitment to health and safety far beyond what anyone could expect of her as a health and safety representative, re-defining the role to new heights. After the earthquake Claire recognised that some injuries are not physical but emotional, and personally led the care and support for her co-workers. She has made mental health a prime focus ever since, and her impact in the area of mental health has been felt regionally and nationally.

Ray Smith, Chief Executive Department of Corrections and Government Health and Safety Lead, said that the conference was a fantastic celebration of worker engagement, and a great way to get passionate health and safety representatives and practitioners together to innovate and share.

“I was absolutely blown away by how many people wanted to be part of our first conference. Everyone on the day was extremely engaged and walked away with not only new connections but new ideas to take back to their agencies. I couldn’t have asked for more.

“Planning is already underway for a mental health conference in August, where the new sector resources will be launched with agencies. We are also looking at how we can top this year’s conference next year – we will have a lot to deliver!” says Ray.

View the presentations from the Unleashing the Power of Engagement – Employee Engagement in Health and Safety conference.