President's Update 2/9/20
By NZISM Secretary
Kia ora koutou to all members and supporters of NZISM. All good things come to an end. As I write this I am in the last few days of my term as President of NZISM with Robyn Bennett stepping into the role at this year’s AGM on the 9th September. I wish her every success and I am looking forward to following the development of the organisation with Robyn as President. With NZISM still in the early stages of its new management structure, there are many opportunities for growth and I am keen to follow how we, through you our members, contribute to the improvement of New Zealand’s performance in health and safety at work.
The “good thing coming to an end” that I refer to is personal. Holding the President role has created opportunities to think about my own growth through targeted professional development including having access to events that contribute to my own CPD not only in the health and safety space, but also in leadership and more broadly around the running of an Incorporated Society. Along with this has been the chance to meet people whom I wouldn’t normally have met across business, government and incorporated society’s both in New Zealand and Internationally. To that end I would like to thank everyone for trusting in me to hold this role.
I have been reflecting on some things that have happened over the last few years that are now shaping the wider health and safety system. Here are some of my thoughts:
- In the run up to this year’s election the National Party have promised, if elected, a full review of WorkSafe NZ focusing on delivery of a collaborative and reasonable approach to workplace health and safety. This introduces a slight change in language from the opposition party compared with their last statement, nearly 12 months ago. Made by their Deputy Spokesperson for Workplace Relations and Safety, the suggestion was a cutting and slashing of regulation in the health and safety space, this policy announced when he spoke at the 2019 NZISM Southland Safety Show. In a few more weeks we will have been through the election process and will know who the next Minister will be. Let's hope it is someone who has a level of passion, understanding and care of people. There hasn’t been much political activity around health and safety recently, apart from a bit of backwards and forwards around significant issues such as Pike River and Whakaari White Island and, of course, the COVID-19 situation has introduced some health and safety language to the general public. Who would have thought that the words PPE would be repeated ad nauseam on every news programme?
- Recently the Business Leaders Health and Safety Forum (BLHSF) celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The work done by this organisation to educate and make more visible matters of health and safety with the leaders of New Zealand’s corporates has, in my view, been a significant contributor to the knowledge and commitment of those at the helms of our biggest and most influential businesses. Adding to the influence created by the BLHSF is the great mahi being done by the Government Health and Safety Lead (GHSL) in supporting government agencies in their approach to health and safety. These are two great New Zealand initiatives and it was fantastic to give GHSL the opportunity to present their work at a recent INSHPO Board meeting and enable them to introduce themselves to an international audience.
- While the BLHSF and GHSL have the opportunity to influence a large part of New Zealand Business, both private and public, they don’t reach everyone. The SME market is an area that needs support for better health and safety, and this is an area where there is opportunity for improvement. A number of New Zealand’s SME’s obviously have access to groups such as the Forestry Industry Safety Council, Construction Health and Safety NZ, Shopcare, the Agriculture Leaders Health and Safety Group and other industry health and safety bodies. There are however those who don’t have access to organisations providing such support. NZISM and HASANZ are looking at ways to create resources and systems that enable SME’s to gain access to competent advice as it is this group who need guidance and maybe in areas not so traditionally health and safety focused. SME’s would likely benefit from guidance in areas such as business continuity, maybe this could be added to the health and safety curriculum.
- I am really excited about the future opportunities that exist in the tertiary sector, with Victoria University leading the charge, not only having the responsibility of WorkSafe NZ’s Chair of Health and Safety but also successfully launching their health and safety suite of products based around the INSHPO Capability Framework. Victoria Uni has definitely created a pathway of development to enhance the opportunities available for aspiring health and safety advisors. It’s now up to the rest of the sector to meet the challenge set out in the Taskforce Report, to up the game in terms of H&S education for future students. I suggest the same opportunity remains for the Polytech’s.
Finally, the Health and Safety Profession. It is absolutely correct to say that technical health and safety competence needs to remain the platform on which wider skills are built. Recently at the HASANZ AGM Julian Hughes, GM of Strategy and Risk at Z Energy and inaugural Chair of the BLHSF said “The mana of health and safety professions lies in our technical expertise. However, the role of technical experts will be amplified by being courageous enablers, leading conversations with management on how to move to better work including better health and safety”. I believe there are a number of essential skills needed to build courageous enablers who can lead conversations and contribute to organisational success. These skills include active listening; understanding; curiosity; empathy; vulnerability; and developing cultural intelligence along with a level of business acumen. With these essential skills under your belt you can create trust and start to influence members of the workforce - at all levels- into achieving improved health and safety performance.
I would like to thank all of those who have supported, guided, and mentored me in this role over the last four years.
Kia ita, kia tapatahi, kia tau
Be committed, be fair and principled, be relaxed