Safety systems push

Ian Alsweiler.
Ian Alsweiler.
An Arrowtown health and safety professional says changes in safety regulations for the adventure tourism industry mean businesses need to take responsibility and adopt a solid safety programme.

After working as Naylor Love nationwide group manager for health and safety for the past 13 years, Ian Alsweiler recently started up Safety Central, a health and safety programme developer, in Arrowtown.

Mr Alsweiler said many local businesses did not have specific safety programmes in place, leaving them liable if an accident in the workplace occurred.

''There's an awful lot of businesses right throughout New Zealand that don't have safety systems.

''It is my belief that if you are in business, you should [have a system]. If you employ staff, you should.''

The programmes are designed specifically for each business, to protect employees from accidents and employers from potential prosecution, if the worst was to happen.

''There's no publicity worse than having your name splashed all over the front page of the paper because you are being prosecuted and found guilty [of a health and safety breach]. It damages your reputation.''

The Government had changed safety regulations surrounding tourism operators and the changes would come into force from November next year.

Mr Alsweiler said tourism operators and small businesses in the Southern Lakes region needed to prepare.

''The big operators have already got that sorted, but I suspect there are a whole lot of smaller operators who don't even know that this has happened.''

He said until now, Queenstown and its surrounds had almost been ignored by the old Occupational Health and Safety, now part of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, but this would change.

''The last 15 years hasn't brought much of it around Central Otago, but I can almost guarantee that by the middle of next year there will be more inspection.''

A safety programme worked like an insurance policy, in that if an accident were to occur and if the business had the appropriate system in place, then the chances of prosecution were less likely.

''If you have nothing, or you have a programme which you have just completely ignored or if you have a generic programme that does not apply, then it doesn't offer the business any protection.''

Mr Alsweiler said his safety programmes involved safety auditing on site, safety training, programme development and constant support.

The programme was continual. Safety checks were made annually, safety plans were changed if new legislation required it and, if an accident were to occur, Mr Alsweiler would act as a middle man between the business and the Department of Labour.

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