In light of the recent tragedy at Dreamworld, where four people died after a raft overturned on the Thunder River Rapids ride, John Frampton, a leading expert in health and safety, calls for tourism operators in New Zealand review workplace practices and their compliance to legislation.
Controversy surrounds the cause of the accident, with the Standard Australia’s Amusement Ride Committee stating maintenance issues could be responsible; however Dreamworld said the ride had its annual mechanical and structural safety engineering inspection four weeks ago.
Frampton, owner of Health and Safety Worksite, with 28 years experience in the industry says “although we’re still waiting for the findings, it’s a sad but timely reminder for New Zealand based tourism operators to review workplace practice for customer safety.”
The New Zealand Health and Work Safety Act (HWSA) 2015 and the legislation that governs Health and Safety in Queensland, Australia, are almost identical.
“Any outcome, finding or shortfall with the Dreamworld accident, could have ramifications in the workplace in New Zealand,” Frampton says.
The new legislation, both in Australia and New Zealand brings higher penalties for legislative breach. For example, if Dreamworld is prosecuted, the highest penalty is up to $3 million and the directors can be held personally liable and face up to five years in jail or be heavily fined.
These warnings come at a time when New Zealand’s tourism industry is buoyant with a record $3.8 billion increase in tourism spending in the past year, according to the Tourism Satellite Account: 2016 – a report just released by Statistics New Zealand.
But buoyancy is no excuse for complacency. Kevin Haskins, a Health and Safety Advisor, ACC auditor and co-founder of BWARE, says “it’s always a tragedy when customers are killed. We’re totally on board with the philosophy that Health and Safety is the responsibility of every member of an organisation. We’re working hard to change people’s thinking.”
BWARE have created the Responder App, software that enables employees to report accidents, identify new hazards and document safety observations, from a smartphone or other device. Data is sent to a centralised data system so Site Managers can be immediately reactive to workplace incidents, to improve accident prevention.
188,136 people are currently directly employed in tourism in New Zealand – 7.5 per cent of the total number of people employed in New Zealand.
“It’s the small -medium sized companies that need the most help.” Haskins says, “They often don’t know where to start.”
BWARE have assisted tourism operators and adventure tourism businesses all over New Zealand to comply with HWSA 2015. As well as the Responder App, Kevin and business partner Chris Brown developed Safety Manager software to help organisations comply with the additional reporting load, which came with the implementation of the new Act.
Haskins says, “It’s pretty typical to assign Health and Safety responsibility to the Office Manager but they may not always have the experience.”
Safety Manager has inbuilt workflow processes which lead operators through the complexities of risk management. It prompts for considerations around high-risk equipment or hazards in the workplace, populating HWSA required risk registers, induction and training records, training records.
The Responder App has applicability on multiple sites across companies that manage operations nationwide. It was recently deployed across three ski fields to about 300 staff, managers and supervisors, each given involvement and access commensurate with their role in the organisation.
Kevin says, “We’re urging operators to make changes now. Let’s learn from Dreamworld. What happened and why? Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
BWARE delivers software and mobile apps that help companies and small businesses, meet their compliance obligations to New Zealand’s Health and Workplace Safety Act, 2015.