If companies really believe people are their most important asset then they will take health and safety really seriously, says the Chair of the NZ Food & Grocery Council-led Health & Safety Working Group, Gerry Lynch.
“If you care about people then you realise you have to get involved and you have to play a part and do whatever you can to ensure they don’t come to harm because it’s not acceptable that people are going home injured.”
Lynch was speaking in the fourth video of FGC’s Leaders Series. He is the General Manager of Mars NZ and a co Vice-Chair of FGC. The Health and Safety Working Group is where all the retailers – Progressive, Foodstuffs and The Warehouse – sit around the table with suppliers to focus on reducing harm.
“We are aiming for a zero harm workplace, which is a big bold ambition in terms of we injure thousands of people currently, but I think it’s one we can achieve if we can change the mindset of all of the companies within FGC.
“What FGC is trying to do is firstly understand where the biggest risks are. We’ve recently done a survey just to gather some data around the number and the types of accidents so we can target the group. It’s looking at where is the best practice within companies because we know that out there is a solution to everyone’s problems.”
He says they have done work on the Safe In Store pass so there’s a better knowledge around for merchandisers and sales people going into store, and they are working on improving inductions so the process is similar in all Warehouses, Countdowns, New Worlds and PAK’nSAVEs.
”Everyone in a company has a part to play. A company that is truly world class in health and safety is not driven by one person. It has to start from the top. I think the leader has to really own and be passionate about health and safety but everyone throughout the organisation needs to feel they can play a role as well.”
He says Pike River had “fantastic systems and processes” but they had also a lot of warning signs that they didn’t heed. “And I think one of the learning points was that the managers didn’t listen and didn’t really play a role in safety – they didn’t heed the warning signs.
“There’s lots of warning signs in our industry. There are lots of near misses with forklifts, there are lots of near misses and minor accidents.
“What role are you playing as sales director or as head of your business in terms of following up to make sure action has been taken, because that’s the role leaders should be playing. Talking to the stores, understanding what they’re doing to ensure the accidents don’t happen again – that the near misses, the learnings, are heeded. That’s one of the key parts in terms of what leaders can do to build a health and safety culture.”
FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich says the Leaders Series is designed to expose member companies to the insights and ideas of some of the great leaders and thinkers within FGC.
“The video snapshots are about many different topics from health & wellness and sustainability, to talent retention and workplace safety, as well as their philosophies and views on the business climate and latest trends.
“Gerry’s comments as a senior CEO in the food industry with a passion for health and safety are timely and important, coming as they do after huge changes in the legislation.”
Speakers so far have been Geoff Shaw of Saturn Group on training up talent for senior roles, Sharna Heinjus of Kimberly-Clark on sustainability, and Veronique Cremades of Nestlé on health and wellness.
Watch Gerry Lynch’s video on FGC’s YouTube channel here .