Nothing is more important than our people. We want to make sure we support everyone to go home safe and well every time they work for Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Fire and Emergency operational activities expose our people to risks to safety, health or wellbeing that cannot always be eliminated. The nature of our work is physically demanding and our people can face risks to their health and psychological wellbeing.
We’re working with Fire and Emergency to develop health standard checks to help everyone stay safe, healthy and well, and to pick up any concerns at an early stage so our people can access support and treatment services to enable them to continue working for the organisation.
What’s been agreed so far?
Over the last twelve months the Health Standards Working Group – made up of union and association representatives, operational managers and Safety, Health and Wellbeing and HR team members – has agreed on a framework for what health standard checks need to cover and what detailed work needs to be done.
The group presented key recommendations to the Board that we all agreed on, as the basis for detailed development. The group worked to the following principles:
- Nothing is more important than our people and ensuring they can undertake their work safely.
- Our focus is on supporting people to continue in our workplaces.
- Health standards include physical readiness, physical health and psychological wellbeing.
- Our work will be underpinned by fairness, transparency, respect and privacy.
We agreed that health includes being able to stay physically safe, physically well and psychologically well. So we recommended that readiness checks would look at these three key areas for all Fire and Emergency people who undertake risk activities as part of their work.
Through ongoing checks from recruitment through to retirement we want to:
- help manage risks that our people might be exposed to in their work
- check at recruitment if people have health conditions that might be made worse by our fire and emergency work
- find out early if people’s health is changing so we can provide access to early support
- gather information about whether controls in place to protect people from harm – like personal protective equipment (PPE) – are actually providing effective protection
- support people to work for the organisation for as long as they choose to, in an environment that is as safe and healthy as possible.
Who will the health checks apply to?
One or more of the health standard checks will apply to all new recruits, employees and volunteers who perform operational activities that expose them to risk. The exact details of who will be required to undertake which of the three health standard checks will be determined as the project progresses.
Here are some examples of how the health standard checks might apply:
How long will the health standards development take?
The Health Standards Working Group members want to make sure your views are represented in every step of the design and planning. You’ll have opportunities to learn more about how things are developing and to understand how health standard checks will help support your personal safety, health and wellbeing and build a safer and healthier organisation.
There’ll be face-to-face discussions, online and email opportunities for you to give your feedback and to have your views heard, as the work continues.
There are five stages in the development of the health standard checks – we want to take the time to get things right.
Next steps in 2019: How can I learn more and have a say?
While this work is being done, current assessment processes will continue.
Face to face information and discussion opportunities will be provided through as many existing leadership and team meetings, safety health and wellbeing meetings, planned union and association meetings and conferences as possible from December 2018 until March 2019.
We want to answer questions and concerns early in the development of checks, and make sure your feedback informs our design work. Online, email and postal feedback options are also available.
To give feedback online and keep up to date on what’s happening, check out the Health standards project page on the Portal. You can also talk a working group member or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Standards Working Group members
The following people have been working closely together on this project:
- Jim Ryburn NZ Professional Firefighters Union
- Peter Nicolle NZ Professional Firefighters Union
- Laurence Voight Fire and Emergency Commanders Association
- Greg Crawford* Fire and Emergency Commanders Association
- Paul Baker Rural Professionals Association
- Colin Robson Forest and Rural Fire Association of NZ
- Kevin Ihaka Forest and Rural Fire Association of NZ
- Rhonda McNicol Public Service Association
- Bruce Irvine Public Service Association
- Glenn Williams United Fire Brigades Association
- Jackie Breen* National Advisor Women’s Development
- Kevin O’Connor National Manager Rural (represented by Paul Baker)
- Kerry Gregory* Fire Region Manager Region 1
- David Guard Fire Region Manager Region 5
- Esitone Pauga Operational Capability Manager
- Brendan Nally* Director People and Capability
- Brian Adams* Manager, People Safety and Support
- Marty Fox Manager Safety and Rehabilitation
- Richard Dagger Principal Advisor Workplace Relations
- Melissa Muckart Workplace Relations Specialist
- Katherine Gouldstone HR Consultant Integration Programme
- Alison Barnes Safety, Health and Wellbeing Lead
* These people have made a significant contribution to the development of the work to date, but have now moved on from this project.