31 Oct 2022

Robyn Bennett

NZISM President

Kia ora koutou members and supporters of NZISM.

Consultation on proposed changes to ACC’s Accredited Employers Programme (AEP) is open and there are only a few days left to make a submission (due 6 November 2022). The current AEP regime is over 20 years old now and has been overdue for a refresh for a while now.

There are essentially four changes:

  • external health and safety assessments
  • a new performance monitoring model
  • revamp of the claims and injury management processes
  • changes to pricing options.

Of particular interest to me is the move away from the old 4801 based audit standard to utilisation of current safety programmes with the intent to provide comfort to ACC, and more importantly safety for employees, that an Accredited Employer has good health and safety practices in place.

From my experience, what I see is important in a good health and safety assessment or audit programme is the following:

  • competent and qualified individuals
  • robust quality assurance and moderation programme
  • appropriate sample-based site selection
  • a good framework to assess against, and
  • a corrective action processes that hold Accredited Employers to account.

And importantly, a strong focus on continuous improvement. There are other aspects of course but, for me, these are key.

ACC (via MBIE’s consultation process) have put forward two options, namely:

  1. becoming certified under 'AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems (ISO 45001)'; or
  2. implementing WorkSafe’s SafePlus onsite assessment and advisory service (developed by MBIE, ACC and WorkSafe).

Whist I can see benefits to both, I am concerned that we are potentially trying to make these programmes work for a purpose that they weren’t designed for. ACC has the intent for Accredited Employers to manage their own safety assessment programme - but in doing so it opens up issues of site selection, quality assurance and moderation (of which, at present, Safe Plus has none). And are we comfortable with, for example, overseas auditors assessing for ISO 45001 and the current competency assessment programme, which is not as perhaps robust as ACC’s current methods? Although I note the requirement is that audit/assessment professionals must be registered on the HASANZ.

There are too many refinements for me to suggest here and, let’s be honest, there are no other options really available at present so I can see that ACC have done their best to offer suitable alternatives.

Given that this change will impact on what we do as health and safety professionals, either directly or indirectly, and that it will affect nearly 25% of New Zealand's workforce for most likely another 20 years, I urge you all to have a look at the proposed changes and send in your feedback.

I cannot overstate how important it is that you do this, as every submission is considered, which then adds weight to change. Your submission cannot be disregarded. So, if there are aspects you would like to see in the new programme or if you wish to endorse ACC’s approach, please put it forward.

This more than likely will be our last chance to influence an outcome which will have long lasting effects on us all.

Consultation on proposed changes to ACC’s Accredited Employers Programme

You are requested to email your submission, as a MS Word document, to: ACregs@mbie.govt.nz – using the subject line “Updates to Accredited Employers Programme”

The deadline is 6 November 2022.