“For a long time businesses have screamed ‘safety’ while whispering ‘health’ and barely mentioning ‘wellness’.”
That’s all about to change for New Zealand King Salmon staff, says new Health, Safety and Wellness Manager Cameron Johnston, who considers all three as being intertwined.
Shrugged off as “airy fairy and lacking real benefit for companies”, wellness is not generally understood, he says.
Since starting his job with NZKS in December last year, Cameron has made it his goal to change that perception, by building wellness into the everyday workplace.
“NZKS understands that wellness is about providing the right systems, culture and environment to allow our people to thrive,” he says.
“We plan to build systems that optimise our people and ultimately our company.”
Cameron’s role is to “assist operations to ensure that our safe work control systems are created in such a way to produce expected results and to prevent unexpected, high consequence, events”.
He says that if these prevention efforts fail, then it’s his job to lead and assist in root cause analysis “to help operations decide where to re-focus their energy”.
Cameron is also tasked with identifying gaps in NZKS’s current systems and then to create and facilitate programmes that ensure and continuously improve resilient performance in the future.
To do that, Cameron firstly has to get to know NZKS’s people, and what health, safety and wellness means in their particular work environment. That has required him to visit each and every part of the business, a challenge he has loved.
“The best part about my role is meeting people. There are not too many roles in a company where you move through every business unit, but this is one.
“I might be at a hatchery one day then a sea farm or processing factory the next. I’ve been here four months and I’m still learning every day.”
Cameron says people can expect “a lot of questions and a lot of laughs and action,” when they meet him, and he has big plans.
“We’re making some big changes in the areas of contractor management and lone worker systems, and starting to plan objectives for the next few years. So watch this space.”
Cameron joined NZKS after working at Port Nelson for three years. His background was originally in manufacturing transport and logistics, where he spent 13 years working at all levels “gathering real life experience and skills that have proved invaluable”.
His move into health and safety came while working on an oil and gas project in Australia, which led on to him completing technical certificates and a diploma in health and safety.
Cameron moved back to New Zealand for the birth of his first child three and a half years ago. Although originally from “the second-best island New Zealand has to offer (the North),” Cameron says he, his wife and two daughters love Nelson and have enticed several family members – babysitters, he says – to join them.
Cameron’s two children, 1 and 3, keep him busy. “And when I’m not renovating our crusty old house or chasing them around, I like to play squash, watch the almighty Warriors (it’s our year this year) and I’ve also got a fishing kayak that gets out about five times a year.”
Back in the office, Cameron’s role will be in the spotlight for World Day for Safety and Health at Work tomorrow on 28 April. He intends to mark this in some way for staff but adds, “our focus should be (and is) on safety every day”.