By Claire Grant | Posted: Monday December 19, 2016
Health and safety is an increasingly important issue for the building industry, in New Zealand and overseas, but construction workers need all the help they can get to manage their responsibilities.
That’s why University of Otago Management honours graduate Ruth Burdekin wants to develop an app for mobile devices that helps with crucial health and safety paperwork.
Ruth gained second place in the 2016 Audacious Challenge with a business proposal that puts health and safety plans and checklists online. Cheekily called “Blonde with 2 Legs” (slang for a builder’s preferred hot drink - tea or coffee with milk and two sugars), it aims to make life a little easier while keeping people safe and increasing productivity.
“I have friends and family in the building industry and I know that recent legislative changes have increased the paperwork and the efforts needed to keep a worksite safe; it has become hard,” she said.
“At the same time there’s a real need for people to be more aware, given that those in the building industry are twice as likely to die as workers in other sectors, so people need to see health and safety obligations as saving lives rather than a box-ticking administrative chore.”
Anything that can be done to make it easier and to replace paper has to help.
A Phone app is simple, logical and more practical on a building site. It may also make it more user-friendly as the mobile phone is increasingly another tool for the busy tradesperson.
Although there are some on-line health and safety management tools already available, Ruth has had interest in her logical methods for managing specific health and safety processes from the building industry. Her next step is to investigate commercial feasibility for her business proposal, but sees her product as international not just New Zealand, given keeping workers safe is a global issue.
“I’m pleased that the Audacious Challenge helped me – having the idea is one thing but actually putting an action plan behind it is quite a different thing. It’s given me the confidence to take it as far as I can.”
“I started my management studies because I could see the huge amount of potential New Zealand has to export technology that I don’t think is currently being realised. That’s lead to a pathway I hadn’t predicted, including completing a post graduate entrepreneurial paper and working on my own business, but I have realised it’s something I’m passionate about – I think about the idea all the time. The ultimate goal is to contribute to New Zealand’s productivity via technology; I hope Blonde with 2 Legs will do that.”