What comes to mind when you think about managing health and safety? Sadly, despite the number of workplace accidents causing serious harm in NZ, many leaders still see health and safety management as an unnecessary and costly burden limited to the domain of pessimistic, risk averse people. While the Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) might seem onerous, most agree that everyone who comes into contact with an organisation should rightly expect to be kept safe.
Organisations are responsible for the health and safety of their own workers, other workers they influence and direct, customers, visitors and the general public who are affected by their operations. Directors, trustees, partners, sole traders and senior managers must make sure that their organisation understands and manages its risks. Workers, visitors and the general public are expected to obey health and safety instructions and to keep themselves, and others, safe.
Regardless of organisation size, investing in a sound health and safety management system is a non-negotiable business expense. Employment contracts, employee manuals and performance appraisal systems should all include the understanding that staff will comply with these policies. Employees, in turn, can enhance workplace safety by routinely identifying and managing risks.
Legislation sets out significant penalties for organisations and leaders who disregard health and safety management. In addition, an unsafe workplace results in low staff morale and damages the organisation’s reputation with customers, suppliers and prospective employees. Leaders who are unsure about introducing a health and safety management system would be wise to seek advice.
This article was first published in the Mercury Bay Informer of 30 October 2019. See www.theinformer.co.nz