Beards, bravado and best practice were all topics of discussion at a post-Covid-19, health and safety event in Mount Maunganui this month.
The New Zealand Institute of Safety Management held the event on Tuesday, October 13 - the first of the usual monthly meet-ups since the second round of Covid-19 restrictions eased.
The event featured a presentation from WorkSafe, covering two topics.
The first was on the transport sector and involved a case study of an investigation and subsequent prosecution after three road workers died at Matatā in March 2019.
The second looked at accelerated silicosis, a detrimental respiratory illness caused by exposure to silica particles most commonly seen in engineered stone cutting businesses.
WorkSafe health and safety inspector Kylie Legae explained to a crowd of more than 40 people that WorkSafe, alongside the industry, is trying to get ahead of the curve when it comes to preventing the risks associated with silica particles.
"Awareness of the risks associated with accelerated silicosis is relatively new," he said.
"The fast growing prevalence of diagnosis in Australia prompted a strong response from WorkSafe and we have now visited 112 businesses working with stone in order to highlight the risks associated with silica dust, and to ensure these workplaces have appropriate controls in place."
One point of discussion was the presence of facial hair and beards on workers and the fact that these inhibited the effectiveness of respiratory protective equipment.
"Most respiratory protective equipment needs to be flush to the skin for it to be effective. And given the size of airborne particles such as silica, they need to be fitted correctly or the risk will not be controlled."
Deborah Cameron, who is part of the institute and also a director of workplace health and safety consultancy Redhawk Safety said members were interested in understanding what a WorkSafe investigation consisted of and the access to WorkSafe inspectors and investigators gave members and attendees the opportunity to ask questions directly.
She said the institute and WorkSafe were "addressing New Zealand's distressing injury and fatality statistics by strengthening capability within workplaces through professional development is a proactive and practical way of achieving this".
For more information on accelerated silicosis or transport guidance, go to https://worksafe.govt.nz/about-us/news-and-media/accelerated-silicosis or https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/vehicle-movements.