Hazard boards put safety first

Hazard boards put safety first

Angry dogs, concealed firearms, dirty needles: police officers work in some dangerous places - but many of them are getting safer with the introduction of crime scene hazard boards.

The boards warn visitors of on-site hazards, potential harm and control measures to mitigate the risk, in the same way as their counterparts which can be found at every building site in the country.

They were the initiative of Detective Inspector Mike Arnerich, Wellington District Manager Investigations. They are used around Wellington District and templates have been sent out nationwide.

“Lots of people come to crime scenes – police officers, photographers, scene of crime officers, Crown Prosecutors, pathologists, defence counsel, and tradespeople at times,” says Mike.

“This is a way of aligning ourselves with practices in the business sector and how they alert their people to any risks in the workplace.”

Crime scene hazards range from risks common to many workplaces, such as slippery or uneven surfaces, to more crime-related ones – for example hidden firearms, aggressive dogs, discarded hypodermic needles or bare electric wires powering cannabis growing.

Mike devised the prototype board by photographing a building site board, then creating a police-specific model from it.

He says the boards have been used at homicide scenes within Wellington, and are popular in operations involving clan labs.

“A lot of it is common sense but it’s much more common sense when you see it written down,” he says. “This is all part of equipping and enabling our staff to be safe and feel safe by looking again at health and safety considerations at work.”

Marty Fox, National Manager Wellness and Safety, says he would love to see use of hazard boards replicated throughout the country.

“This is making safety real,” he says. “It’s about ensuring we understand what the hazards are at every scene and that our staff are aware of them.

“Initiatives like this fit right in with what Police is doing in making Wellness and Safety one of our organisational strategies. This is true safety leadership at work, which is what we need in a high-performing organisation.”

Mike has sent the template to crime managers in other districts.