Site Safe celebrates innovation in small business

25 Aug 2016

picture of Neriah Broughton with her app

Neriah Broughton with her prize-winning health and safety app.

A new app which allows workers to instantly upload photos of hazards and near misses has scooped an award at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards.

The app, which took out the Site Safe award for the best small business health and safety initiative, was designed by the health and safety advisor at Regents Park dairy farm in Bulls, Neriah Broughton, who says the app has transformed the way people approach safety on the farm.

Appointed as the advisor last August, Neriah says she was struck by how much paperwork there was.

“I actually went through the folder and got the forms out and went to get people to start having meetings and I just felt that there had to be better way because there were too many forms,” she says.

“I just thought ‘oh man, we need something to happen’ – and I wanted to change the culture of what health and safety is and what the point is, so I needed to come up with a tool that involved everyone in the workplace.”

“It was about wanting to find something really simple and easy to use so the guys could make a better and safer workplace.”

She noticed photos of a near miss being posted on Facebook and the idea for the app took off from there.

“Everybody has Facebook and they always use it, so I thought what if we created something similar that people actually wanted to use and got people talking about health and safety - and I thought something mobile would help.”

The farm’s six employees can use the computers available in each cowshed and can also use the farm’s tablets or their personal smartphones to access the app, which allows them to take a photo of the hazard and tag its location using GPS. The farm manager then gets an alert on his phone and can update the status of the hazard on the app where everyone can see the progress.

The app has helped staff see there is a real outcome when they report hazards, incidents or near misses, Neriah says, and it also means they have a “pretty quick turnaround” in fixing hazards.

It has even improved attitudes at their weekly health and safety meetings.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic. The staff love it because when you take a photo something actually happens. It picks up the GPS location and you get an acknowledgement for reporting it - it’s like a rewards system, really.”

“It helps keep the conversation going - it was really important for me to close that loop so that if someone reports something, they see the end result.”

Winning the Site Safe award has been an amazing boost for the farm, she says.

“It was quite a pleasant surprise and an honour to get that award and it has done wonders for staff morale.”

 Site Safe Chief Executive Alison Molloy says it is great to see such innovative ideas coming from small businesses.

“The app is a fantastic health and safety initiative, making life easier for both workers and managers. It was a well-deserved win for the team at Regents Park, and it’s exactly the type of idea we wanted to support by sponsoring this award.”

Plans are currently afoot to roll out the app on other farms.