Stand in the Gap

Dingwall staff heard a powerful presentation on leadership and safe workplace practice from Marsella and Wiremu Edmonds. The Rotorua couple are the bereaved parents of Robert Ruri-Epapara who was killed in a forestry accident in 2013.

Robert, a fifth-generation forestry man, died when a foreman failed to take the necessary steps to make sure the 23-year-old was not in the path of a tree he felled. Robert left behind a wife and child and four siblings as well as his parents.

The Stand-in-the-Gap presentation was born out of grief and a strong desire not to let any other family suffer in the same way.

The brave couple relive the accident every time they deliver their talk. They take the audience through the events and prevailing attitudes that led to the short cuts taken on that fateful day.

Marsella and Wiremu challenge their audience to Stand in the Gap – to speak up when they see colleagues and leaders circumventing procedures or taking short cuts that could lead to compromising safety. The message is that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility from leaders down to the newest staff member.

At the end of the presentation, Wiremu asked CEO Claudine if she would “stand in the gap”. She answered an emphatic “yes”. He then asked the rest of the audience if they were prepared to help her. Every Dingwall staff member present stood to indicate their commitment to health and safety in the workplace.

Pictured left to right are: Caregiver Queenie Arapo, CEO Claudine Young, Marsella and Wiremu, and caregiver Shane Ah-You.