New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards

I had to write an article on a local event for a Writing.com contest, and as I attended the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards last night, I wrote about that.  Enjoy!

It was an evening of glitz and glamour at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards last night. Held at the SkyCity Convention Centre, the awards were held over a black tie dinner that bridged the two day Safeguard Health and Safety Conference.

Television journalist Mike McRoberts, recently eliminated from Dancing With The Stars NZ, was the Master of Ceremonies, warming up the audience with jokes about his status as a local celebrity and sex symbol. He didn’t take long to get down to business though, announcing finalists in a number of categories and inviting the sponsors up on stage to present the awards.

Notable awards for the evening included a Countdown lifetime achievement award presented to Dr Hillary Bennett, who won over the audience with her candid acceptance speech, pledging that lifetime achievement or not, she was not yet finished making a difference in this industry. Bridget Smaill of Bank of New Zealand took home the award for NZISM Health and Safety Practitioner of the Year, a category highly contested. There was mention made of Smaill’s system being used to identify and provide care for staff who required it following the Christchurch mosque attacks earlier this year, and it was noted by those in attendance that it was rewarding to see such visible value from a new health and safety system. The Edenfx Health and Safety Rep of the Year was Brent Armitage from Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand had an excellent night, also taking out the WorkSafe New Zealand/ACC award for Best Overall Contribution to Improving Workplace Health and Safety in New Zealand.

The awards were judged by a panel that included representatives from Safeguard, WorkSafe New Zealand and ACC, as well as a union representative and an experienced health and safety practitioner.

The key theme of the evening and the awards was a focus on mental health and the use of peer support. Many of the finalists had turned their attention from the traditional focus on physical safety to that of mental health, and both Vodafone (winner of the Vitae award for Best Initiative to Promote Better Worker Health and Wellbeing for its Manaaki Support Network) and Air New Zealand stood out in that regard. It was clear from those who spoke, and highlight by those who won, that mental health is currently of great concern not only to those working in the health and safety industry, but in workplaces throughout New Zealand generally.

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