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Workbridge, Where abilities equal employment

Mark Hood has skills as a sheet-metal worker, panel beater and welder, but by 2012 he was struggling to find a job after losing his right arm in a motorcycle crash and suffering a work-related injury.

Workbridge employment consultant Jan Lawton put Mark’s name forward to Wanganui-based Pacific Helmets, which makes a wide range of helmets for the Pacific and international markets.

Despite some initial reservations, the company’s operations manager interviewed Mark. He was offered a job in February 2013.

After taking on a range of roles at the factory, Mark asked if he could try drilling and trimming helmets. He quickly took to the work, but found it put a strain on his arm.

Workbridge successfully applied to the Ministry of Social Development for funding for a modified workstation.

Saving people’s lives

With a foot pedal for speed control and an emergency stop, the workstation enables Mark to work at least as fast as his able-bodied colleagues. Other workers can also use the workstation, and productivity in the team has risen.

Pacific Helmets was a finalist in the 2014 Attitude ACC Employer Award, which recognises companies that work alongside disabled employees to help them achieve their career aims.

Mark is happy in his job, and is proud of working for Pacific Helmets.

“Doing this job is so satisfying. You’re putting a product out there which is saving people’s lives,” he says.

Jan Lawton says Pacific Helmets values all its staff, and looked beyond Mark’s disability to see the person he is and the skills he has to offer.

 

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