Making connections with Chinese developers and trade professionals
27 Nov 2019
Ann Chia gives her presentation at the Asian Health & Work Safety Summit.
Site Safe Health and Safety Advisor Ann Chia has been spreading the safety message among the members of Auckland's Chinese construction community.
Ann, and Auckland Regional Manager Chris Jobson, attended the Asian Health & Work Safety Summit on November 23, and talked to about 100 industry business owners, mainly developers, contractors, builders and trade related professionals.
Organised by the NZ Chinese Building Industry Association it was supported by WorkSafe and a range of non-government groups such as the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) and a range of companies.
“This is the first time that I have spoken at a meeting organised by a Chinese organisation and I thought it was really good being able to speak at this event, given that it is directly focused on the Chinese Construction Industry.”
She said it was useful to be able to speak to the audience in Mandarin as that helped accommodate any culture and language barriers.
“Plus by using more layman terms and practical examples, I think we got our safety message across to them effectively.”
Ann has been with Site Safe for nearly five years and has worked in the construction industry in both Singapore and New Zealand.
Ethnically Chinese and born and raised in Malaysia, Ann speaks Mandarin and Cantonese which makes her one of the go-to safety experts for Chinese construction companies and staff.
Her Mandarin presentation explained the ins and outs of NZ’s safety culture and differences between how things operate here compared to in Asia.
She says a big part of her presentation was talking about getting workers engaged in the safety process, and making sure the heads of companies lead by example.
“In Asia, the boss is the boss and if you’re a worker you get told what to do and you must follow instructions. If you ask too many questions or talk too much about health and safety you get ostracised.
“I told them that in New Zealand things can operate differently. Some workers do have a lot of skill and knowledge in their job and there are times that the boss does have to listen to them as they may know more about the technical side of the work and how to do it safely.”
She said she also went through the levels of risks that workers face and the importance of engaging with workers, as they are at the sharp end of things.
“The owners and directors have to encourage workers to report hazards on site more often, and as the leader of the company, they have to lead by example when it comes to safety.
“The more that workers report hazards, the more that the site can control, manage and prevent accidents and incidents on site.
“In some cases bosses in Asia don’t have to wear a hard hat. They can walk through a building site with their dress shoes and you can’t tell them what to do.
“I said in the New Zealand construction industry the culture is very different and this is simply not permitted, safety must come first.”
Ann said she received good feedback from the floor, and some people even requested a safety audit as a result of the presentation.
“There are often companies that are members of Site Safe but they’ve never contacted us or asked for any safety consulting or auditing help, so it was good to talk at the event to promote Site Safe services and products.”
Apart from running bilingual Passport courses, Ann often runs Toolbox Talks at worksites so she is in touch with the issues of that sector of the industry.
“Often questions are raised about what WorkSafe does, and the basic legal requirements business owners must know such as the responsibilities of a PCBU, how to exercise due diligence, and carry out risk management, worker engagement and participation.
“Because often so many of them are so busy managing their business they don’t have time to communicate, consult and coordinate at their sites with their workers and subcontractors.
“I stressed that those are the important things that all business owners must do.”