Health and Safety - keep it simple

01 June 2022

When Matt Jones presented his first Health and Safety workshop to a group of air traffic controllers, it did not quite hit the mark and he had to revisit his approach.

To increase uptake of the company’s new Health and Safety Management System, Matt flipped his presentation and changed up his slides and the rest as they say, is history.

Matt is the Director and Principal Consultant of Advanced Safety NZ , which was created to turn the current tide of preventable workplace fatalities in New Zealand and beyond.

Across the next few months, Matt will be presenting his Health and Safety workshop to RCSA, where members will get a chance to experience his unique approach to his presentation in Auckland, Christchurch and online.

Don’t expect to see Matt armed with a clipboard pacing up and down the room. Instead, members will get a fresh perspective, high levels of interaction, high levels of energy and lots of anecdotal stories.

Recently, Matt shared his insights into Health and Safety with RCSA. You can check out his full interview here  and in this edition of RCSA’s Member Update we get a sneak glimpse into his world.

To book your spot on Matt's Health and Safety workshops click here.

When did you know that a Health and Safety career was for you? (Go to 8:46 on video  for more) 

Matt’s penchant for health and safety can be linked back to his early schooling days when he made the choice to study philosophy and politics. 

Matt said the purpose of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Worksafe NZ was to try and drive proactive change in workplace culture in New Zealand and beyond.

“I enjoy taking legislation, regulation, good practice guidelines and boiling them down into everyday terminology and helping people to understand it’s not actually this big scary thing – it is good business practice,” he said. 

There’s a lot of jargon in our industry, and the Health and Safety sector is no different Matt. How important is communication and how can we land messages more effectively before people switch off and think this is just about compliance? (Go to 11:00 on video  for more)   

Communication is a big part of Matt’s health and safety training workshops.  Reflecting on his first health and training session at Airways New Zealand, Matt recalls it was not all smooth initially.   

“I had a chance conversation with a HR consultant, and she had just seen one of my presentations. With a smile on her face, she asked me, do you know why this isn’t hitting the mark with these guys?” Matt said.    

“She reminded me they were air traffic controllers, so, they need a clear path, a map from A to B. What I was doing was saying big change is coming and I can’t confirm exactly when – it might look like this, it could look like that, we don’t really know, that for them this was just alarm bells, it was a flight or freeze response, and this is why I was getting blank stares and blank faces.”   

So, he changed things up and approached his workshop - Matt’s way.    

“I flipped the presentation, I changed up the slides, I changed up the way I addressed them. In a very short space of time, I realised I was getting a tonne of buy in – the uptake of a new Health and Safety management system, the uptake of a new Health and Safety rep structure was all extremely successful, and it all happened within a short space of time and all this was due to flipping the way we provided these Health and Safety messages.”      

What can attendees expect from a Matt Jones’ workshop? (Go to 16:30 on video  for more)   

Matt said members would get a different experience at his Health and Safety workshop.   

“You will not see me walking around with a clipboard and a checklist ready to check my boxes,” Matt said. “Instead, what you will find is a fresh perspective, high levels of interaction, high levels of energy and lots of anecdotal stories and insights which will provide everyone who is tuning in, with the means to take those insights and put them into action.”     

Every sector thinks they’re unique, but there are unique nuances with recruitment & staffing. What do you think is unique or maybe more challenging for our sector? (Go to 18.28 on video  for more)   

According to Matt, while New Zealand and Australia are still growing their Health and Safety maturity and capability, other organisations have already grown in this space, which may lead to the “potential imbalance of influence and decision making”.    

“There is likely to be times where organisations who may not have as much influence around the decision-making table will identify an issue of a concern and the other parties may not recognise that as a significant enough risk to do much about it, so it is trying to resolve those types of challenges, which is a space I’m helping some clients who operate in this industry to navigate,” Matt said.   

In an industry that isn’t regulated, how important is it that our members are bound by a code of professional conduct? Does that mean anything from the outside looking in? (Go to 21:09 on video  for more)   

“Absolutely. I guess it’s defining that line in the sand, the threshold of acceptable practices,” Matt said.    

“It’s similar in the Health and Safety space too. The Health and Safety association was only established three years ago. Prior to that there was not an officially recognised record of professionals in New Zealand, which is insane.”    

Matt said there would be risks for industries that did not have bottom-line standards.     

What’s going to get harder; what do you see ahead for Health and Safety? (Go to 22:17 on video  for more)   

According to Matt, the traditional Health and Safety roles such as adviser, coordinator and manager were expanding at a fast pace.    

In his interview, Matt explains Health and Safety staff roles have evolved with many having greater responsibilities – presenting at boards, providing high level governance and presentations and at the time same managing and thinking about psychological harm and workplace bullying to name a few.    

He recommends anyone working in this area to remember good risk management is the centre of the Health and Safety framework.   

How can we better support the Health and Safety champions in our organisations? (Go to 25:05 on video  for more)   

Matt said it was important for organisations and leaders to ensure Health and Safety representatives receive quality training and that they arethey “recognised for what their role is”.    

“A large part of it is being an effective communicator, and conduit between their team (the people they work with on daily basis) and getting that information further up the food chains so that the people making those big decisions are actually working on information that’s actually accurate rather than what the management/team leaders want to hear,” Matt said.    

“Health and Safety reps are critically important – there is a high chunk dedicated to them specifically in the Health and Safety act and will only be recognised by Worksafe if they have gone through at least level 1 HSR recognised training in NZ and their role is absolutely critical.”    

Let’s talk about psychosocial safety. (Go to 32:47 on video for more)   

According to Matt, to achieve safe work environments, where values and purpose are aligned, it is important to have engagement and participation in workplaces.    

“When the opportunity to hear and get input and insights from the people who are actually creating the risks in the first place –that’s where the gold is; and that’s where we need to get really comfortable in doing, is opening up those policies and those manuals and getting feedback and insights from the people doing the mahi.”   

For details on Matt’s Health and Safety Workshop and how to book click here