A group of Massey High School students have completed a pilot programme, developed by WorkSafe, which aims to see a generational shift in attitudes towards health and safety.

The programme delivered by WorkSafe inspectors, was comprised of three workshops and held across the school year.

It allowed year 12 and 13 students in Massey High School’s carpentry, building and construction pre-trade academy to learn the ins and outs of health and safety, with topics including falls from a height, asbestos and mentally healthy work.

The pre-trade academy is part of the Auckland West Vocational Academy, which allows students the opportunity to take part in skills based learning they can carry into future careers.

Students taking part in the full-time construction academy spend the year building residential houses on site at the school, which are then sold to Housing New Zealand. Once completed, tutors assist students in finding apprenticeships outside of the classroom.

Massey High School’s Site Manager Cameron Fergus, who leads the pre-trade academy, has a background in working on residential construction sites. He said he has seen first-hand relaxed attitudes towards health and safety.

“This is why this programme is great, it is drilling it into these students while they are young and impressionable, before they’re given their tools and thrown into the workplace.

Fergus said it was awesome to see students putting knowledge learnt during the programme into practice on site.

“I have definitely noticed the students are more aware of health and safety now, they’re talking about it amongst one another.”

WorkSafe’s Construction Lead Melanie Dale said despite postponements throughout the year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the pilot programme has been extremely successful.

“We have worked hard to ensure these workshops are interactive and digestible. We’ve kept them short and snappy and covered a range of topics to give students a broad understanding of health and safety and how it applies to a construction site.

“Coming in each term we can see how students are developing. They are able to draw on knowledge from previous workshops to identify risk.

“The construction industry remains a key focus area for WorkSafe. By positively influencing these students’ habits while they are learning their craft hopefully we’ll see a generational change in attitudes to health and safety in the workplace that will translate into less harm on construction sites.”

Dale said WorkSafe was now looking to roll out the programme nationally.

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