by Jeremy Tunks, NZARC Trustee and General Manager Training and Safety InZone Industries Ltd.


Now that we have had almost a year under the HSW Act 2015, how are things shaping up under this new regime and what has actually changed? What do I need to focus on as a manager/ CEO/ director who is either a PCBU (peek – a – boo? Person in control of a business unit) or an Officer?

I’ve had a bit of a reflection. The last 6 months I have had a direct role in managing health and safety and training for a company involved in the construction industry as a manufacturer and a sub-contractor, with approx. 350 employees spread around New Zealand. I think the three biggest things for me have been:

  • Focus on developing a health and safety culture
  • Worker engagement and participation
  • It’s all about risk as opposed to hazards

NZ has long been recognised for its laid back she’ll be right attitude, which is great for making the most of our non-work time and lifestyle we enjoy in this beautiful country, but less beneficial for the workplace. One of the things we have really focused on is it’s all about our people’s attitudes towards health and safety and changing our culture (organisational beliefs, values, ethos – the way we do things) around health and safety – to one of being proactive, top of the agenda, front of mind – non she’ll be right approach. Safety is a core organisational value that we expect all our people to buy into and promote. Obviously culture doesn’t change overnight, so that is where the second element comes into focus.

In order to gain increased worker engagement, and not operate in a top driven directive approach to health and safety which the guys and gals at the coal face just see as another spin from the bosses, we focused on the following:

  • A roadshow and series of workshops focused on health and safety – for everyone in the company to attend
  • Short half hour talks/ demonstrations set up as workstations
  • Topics included:
    • Vehicle safety
    • H&S legislation for employees
    • Wellbeing, diet, stress, sleep
    • Company approach to health and safety
    • Physical strategies
    • Injury prevention
    • Asbestos identification and care
    • Ladder safety/ working at heights
    • Worker participation

A key part of these workshops was getting participants to share their stories and experience and get dialogue happening. Developing an open culture where it is safe to speak and share.

We brought our Health and Safety Committee together – of which the goals was to have 50% of members to be worker nominated, and we agreed on a Worker Agreement – where we identified the key work groups in our company [we had four], how we would engage across the company, and how we would share and communicate information.

We have also implemented a Worker Recognition programme – where we seek nominations and give out prizes to those of our people who have lead the way around health and safety and been role models.

The Roadshow is now an annual event which goes to all branches across the country and is a really effective way of getting engagement, sharing ideas, and building that safety culture that we really need in our organisation and all our workplaces.

My last reflection is around the focus on risk and risk management and control as opposed to hazard management and control. In the past we would identify hazards, develop controls and put together a hazard register. Now its all about putting risk factors and risk scores to those hazards, and developing a risk register. Each risk is now scored using a risk matrix. So there has been a bit of work in migrating from the old style to the new risk focus. We are still working through this and are involving our worker representatives in the process.

There are some useful guides and links available, and I have listed some below.

We still have our Health and Safety Management systems – documents, policies, procedures, and forms, set up according to ACC’s WSMP programme [workplace Safety Management Practices], with the focus on the following 8 key areas:

  1. Employer commitment
  2. Planning review and evaluation
  3. Hazard [Risk] identification, assessment and management
  4. Information, training and supervision
  5. Incident and injury reporting, recording and investigation
  6. Employee participation in health and safety management
  7. Emergency planning and readiness
  8. Contractor management

Areas 7 and 8 are our current focus, these two areas have a lot more focus now under the HSW Act 2015.

Thanks for letting me share these reflections – stay safe and well. Mauri ora!


Helpful links: