From the Chairman’s Desk
Health and safety must be the top priority when it comes to worksites in transport corridors. There have been a number of deaths and injuries lately that are totally unacceptable. It is incumbent on all of us to make sure that worksites are safe for workers and travelling public. There is a range of responsibilities in this area, including the Health and Safety at Work Act, CoPTTM, Worksafe, Utilities legislation and so on, and the NZUAG Code also has Safety as one of its guiding principles. Civil Contractors NZ is working with NZTA and Worksafe to improve safety around transport corridor worksites, and NZUAG is fully supportive of this work. There is more on this issue below.
In other news, the NZUAG Board met recently and progressed work from its working group and committees, including the promotion of the recently revised Code. We are heading for a small surplus for this financial year, and we have set our AGM in Auckland for 27 November 2019.
I hope to see you there.
Health and Safety: The number 1 priority:
Recently Peter Silcock, CE of Civil Contractors NZ, contacted NZUAG advising that they have been developing a work programme with NZTA and Worksafe aimed at improving the health and safety of workers and the public around transport corridor. At this stage the programme looks to have four main strands – road user education and awareness, policing and enforcement, best industry practice and aligning procurement. The Board has invited Peter to its next meeting in November to discuss this serious issue and to get an update on current initiatives in this area.
At the August Board meeting we had a workshop on this issue. The relationship of principals and contractors underlies all that we do with the National Code. The strength of that relationship is fundamental to the outcomes. In relation to the National Code, it was noted that there is no onus in the Code for the principals to ensure compliance, although in some cases there may be an onus in other legislation. Also, with the rising costs of compliance, some players may be finding it cheaper not to comply with the Code especially if they feel there is a lack of enforcement. And finally it was noted that a good relationship between the parties and demonstrable performance is one of the ways to address the concerns about health and safety.
The outcome of the workshop was some specific areas of focus that the NZUAG should develop further, including a continued focus on sector education and awareness of the expectations set out in the Code, the importance to all parties of good compliance and providing an assurance of good outcomes, the emphasis on the quality of the outcome, which depends on quality right through the process, (beginning with the quality/price trade-off in the procurement process), engendering a proper duty of care across all parties, and a focus on reducing the inefficiencies through the process and therefore reducing the costs.
NZUAG will be progressing this issue further with CCNZ, and we urge all parties to the Code and contractors to relook at the health and safety issue with a view to making it the top priority for our work in the transport corridors.
Infrastructure Data Standards:
Following a presentation from Myles Lind, (a former NZUAG chair from the water sector and now a NZTA Senior Project Manager), NZUAG considered a paper that sought NZUAG involvement in the governance of the infrastructure data standards project. The paper is available of the NZUAG website here.
In 2015, the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) identified the need for, and benefits of, national data standards for infrastructure. In 2017, Land Information NZ published metadata standards for three waters, roading and light commercial/residential building infrastructures. No funding was provided to implement these standards across the sectors.
In 2018, in conjunction with the water sector, the NZTA led the development of a Programme Business Case (PBC) to understand the implementation of the roading data standard. The PBC identified that across the land transport sector, legacy data practices and mechanisms have resulted in bespoke, siloed and inefficient asset management data systems. Addressing the problems was likely to be challenging and costly.
Currently, the standards developed by LINZ are being implemented as pilot studies by the National Technical Standards Committee, made up of technology groups such as Universities, LINZ and MBIE and supported by local government as building consent authorities. Their focus is on data standards for buildings.
The Board considered a request from Myles with his project management hat on for NZUAG to become involved in parallel to this work, given the Code touches similar issues across data standards that affect both utility operators and corridor managers. We also discussed the role of the newly appointed Infrastructure Commission in this work.
The Board acknowledged the importance of this work and is supportive of progress, but also recognised that it is a voluntary organisation funded only by members. Any leadership role in this work could be very intensive and then would be beyond the current NZUAG resources.
However, we have agreed to attend the next NTSC meeting, and to help develop an options paper that would set out a preferred solution for the coordinated embedding, funding and long term governance model for infrastructure data standards in New Zealand.
The Board will keep you updated on progress of this important work.
Code Effectiveness Working Group: The Code Effectiveness Working Group, made up of members from NZUAG who aren’t members of the Board, has met for the first time to review the Group’s terms of reference, which will frame the subsequent programme of work. The Group’s focus will be on assessing how effective the Code has been, taking into account the Purpose and Principles outlined in the Act and the Code respectively and recommending what improvements could be made to Code performance reporting. A list of members of the working group can be found here.
A face-to-face workshop is being organised for September in Wellington, with the final report due in May next year. If you have any questions or suggestions for the group please contact the Group facilitator Rachel Nottingham at Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Code Awareness, Education and Training Committee: This committee, chaired by Tracy Bell (Roading Corridor Technician, Timaru District Council) is preparing for the Zoom webinars on the revised Code to be held on 25 September, 1 October and 8 October. More details will be posted on our website soon.
Code Compliance Committee: This Committee, chaired by Rene D’Ath (Distribution Manager, First Gas) is preparing for the annual Code performance data collection for the 2019/20 year. All utility operators and corridor managers are required to provide data on third party strikes (UOs) and CARS received (CMs) for the previous year so that NZUAG can report on the Code’s performance to the Minister for Infrastructure and industry (Sections 8.2.2 and 8.2.3 of the Code). Previously a survey monkey tool has been used, but this year the board has decided to use a questionnaire format, which should be available for distribution in late September/early October. Please start preparing your data for the questionnaire so that we can produce our report as soon as possible.
Communications Committee: This committee, chaired by Ria Apiata (National Protection Manager, KiwiRail) is looking to beef up the communications on Code issues, particularly for our members. The Committee has identified nine key areas for improvement in the short term, including this newsletter, the handbooks, pamphlets, our website, Rims Conferences, our links with the NZ Institute of Highway Technology (NZIHT), Code liaison meetings, webinars and the Code performance data collection process. The committee is developing a survey of members to assess communications requirements. There are also plans for some new initiatives once the short term issues have been addressed.
Utilities Access Act Review Committee: This committee, chaired by Ian Cox (Principal Advisor Network Management, NZTA) is looking at what changes if any are required to the Utilities Access Act that came into force in 2010. The Board has agreed that this work will follow on from the work of the Code Effectiveness Working Group and Board committees and may pick up requirements from the work being done on the Asset Management Data Standards. This work will also be discussed with the new Infrastructure Commission so it is clear who will take the overview of any proposed changes. The Board agreed to take a watching brief on this work stream until other work has been completed.
Finance Committee: This Committee, chaired by Geoff Thorn, (CEO, TCF) is responsible for the financial reporting to the Board and the preparation of audited accounts to the AGM. The committee has worked hard to ensure the work programme remains within budget, and is confident a small surplus will be delivered at the end of the financial year. These small surpluses offset the considerable costs of consultation and legal work during Code review years. The next formal review is to be held in 2022.
NZUAG AGM: The 2019 AGM will be held on 27 November, to be hosted by Chorus at the Chorus Lab, 99 Khyber Pass, starting at 9.30am. A board meeting will follow the AGM. We will be reporting on the 2018/19 work programme, which was considerable given the successful Code review process, and will look ahead to emerging issues. Board membership will also need to be confirmed. Board membership is restricted to full member organisations, and Board members need to be either full-time employees or board members of full-member organisations. This year, an odd numbered year, will require appointments from the Government’s road corridor manager, and for utility operators, representatives from the telecommunications and gas sectors, with the fifth utility operators slot also to be appointed. The NZUAG Constitution can be found here. I look forward to seeing you as possible on 27 November.
RIMS Conference 2020: The 2020 RIMS Conference will be held in Napier on 25-26 March 2020. NZUAG sponsors a work stream on Day 2. Usually we get a good showing form corridor managers, so next year the organising committee is wanting to attract more delegates from the utility operator sector, so we can address some of the current issues facing industry. Please put the dates in your diary.
That’s it for now. Until next time…