Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Building sites tone down distractions

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The tradesman's best friend and guardian of the ute toolbox - his dog - is going the way of the wolf whistle on building sites.

Builders responsible for multi-million dollar homes in the leafy suburbs have a blanket policy of no dogs on site - and blaring radios are out, too.

"It used to be that most builders had big dogs but no dogs is widespread now, said Kieran Mallon, president of Auckland Master Builders Federation. "As builders we set our own rules for sites and it's a courtesy thing towards your client."

Main contractors say dogs and radios can be health and safety hazards. Some say dogs' behaviour ranks with the choice of radio stations as a cause of conflict and annoyance among workers.

Lindesay Construction contracts manager Hamish Craig said the company had a blanket ban on dogs and radios on its residential sites.

"What reinforced it for me was personal experience some time ago: I have only seen two serious fights on building sites - one over dogs and the other over a radio.

"The dog had killed another dog. I saw a concrete worker lose it over the music and stick his rake through a guy's boom box and it was all on."

One foreman suggested that with hot competition for projects, the bans were about showing clients a professional attitude and value for money. With the cost of building the client did not want to hear tradesmen singing along to Solid Gold hits or taking the dog for a walk.

Builder Kevin Knowles said he did not like dogs on site. "But having said that one of our guys has a little poodle and at this stage it's allowed. But I suspect a rule against dogs will come in soon because it's another distraction you can do without."

However, Mr Knowles said he was for radios as long as the noise was not offensive.

"I'd say it's conducive to good work habit - it keeps you positive."

Site Safe Auckland consultant Shane Clement said a ban on dogs was becoming prevalent.

"Personally, I have never been a big fan of radios but I know a lot of people who are."

House framer Chris Larsen takes his huntaway Jack to work on sites - but only when he can.

"If I think he is going to be a pain, I just don't take him, because not all sites are right, especially with neighbours' dogs on heat.

"But some people take their dog every day, religiously."

Mr Mallon said he allowed earmuffs with built-in radios though some companies refused. The concern was workers should be able to hear warning shouts and approaching machinery.

- NZ Herald

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