New Zealand, along with the rest of the world, has been through a unique experience, one we hope never to repeat. The craziness of panic buying hand sanitiser, toilet paper and PPE looms large in our memories. Covid-19 highlighted many positive aspects of humanity and identified other areas where we did not stand for the greater good. Like many others, I tried to buy, with limited success, hand sanitiser for my on-the-road workers to keep in their vehicles. If I were honest, I would say that this was not something I had previously thought of. My workers are always based in our office with regular visits to our clients. The visits usually occur in an office-type environment. My workers have easy access to clean and well-maintained facilities. However, many workers have different experiences when working away from the administration base. They may not have easy or regular access to clean toilets, they may be required to sleep in their trucks (often in very good conditions) and use shared facilities, they may stay in budget motels. Meals may be irregular and limited in range.
Part of the health and safety responsibility of the organisation is to manage the health and safety of their workers wherever and whenever they are at work. The definition of a workplace includes a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, ship or other mobile structure. Therefore, the organisation must ensure that workers have easy access to appropriate facilities to manage their health and safety. One of my clients was confident that they were providing appropriate accommodation for their drivers when they stayed away. They paid for accommodation and a meal allowance. The accommodation offered the kind of facilities that would be expected. However, in conversation with a driver, they identified that the place was not cleaned to an acceptable standard and that drivers were uncomfortable staying there. We also launched a discussion about the type and quantity of food that should be consumed. These conversations enabled my client to improve the quality of the accommodation and provide a better system of transporting food so that drivers didn’t have to rely on takeaways or steak, egg and chips from the local pub.
Talk to your off-site staff to understand what they experience and what they need. It’s an opportunity to give them some guidance about healthy habits and to ensure that they are experiencing the standard of care you believe you are providing.