Top 5 Things to have the biggest impact on H&S in workplaces

By NZISM Secretary


Kia ora koutou to all members and supporters. Thank you to all those who responded to our recent request for feedback on the top five things that members believe would have the biggest impact on health and safety in workplaces, in Aotearoa. Unsurprisingly the issue that had the largest response was improving regulatory engagement.

WorkSafe’s ability to be an effective Regulator is seen as fundamental to improving health and safety in workplaces. This ranged from ensuring the Regulator was adequately resourced, to improving the capability of the Inspectorate, and utilising this workforce to work with organisations to educate and create opportunities for improvement in the system, through to increasing prosecutions. Our members want WorkSafe to be set up for success, and expect them to step up and into their role of Engaging, Educating and Enforcing.

The second biggest issue members identified is the need to improve Regulations and guidance documents. We have seen little movement in terms of the regulatory review of late. Complete silence on the review of Plant, Structures and Hazardous Work Regulations, which is still ongoing, and MBIE have confirmed there are no plans to review the HSNO Act. Access to up-to-date guidance documents is a critical tool to help organisations effectively manage the health and safety of their workplaces. This is not an onerous task but does require resources - our members have spoken loud and clear; this work needs to be prioritised.

Increasing worker engagement and participation was also in the top five. We know that when you have workers effectively participating in the design of work, when they contribute to the decision making in organisations, work as imagined, is more closely aligned with work that is done. You create a more engaged workforce, which is a more productive workforce. If we can support Health and Safety Representatives and showcase the value they create in organisations, ensure they are utilised as an effective participant in the system of better work, we can improve health and safety across Aotearoa.

You believe that legislating registration for the Health and Safety Profession would also improve health and safety outcomes. While this is a long-term lofty goal, we are making great strides as a profession to ensure that we are appropriately qualified and meet the experience requirements within our accreditation framework. When I joined NZISM almost six years ago, the notion of tertiary qualifications as a requirement for OHS professionals was something we were starting to pursue with much push back. During my tenure, accreditation at NZISM has increased by 85%, which is an astounding shift. Our members recognise that tertiary qualifications are a critical component to professional practice, and you have actively engaged in achieving tertiary qualifications. This is something we are extremely proud of at NZISM. The profession has stepped up, done the mahi, and the workplaces of Aotearoa benefit from your improved capability.

Finally, you want improved access to health and safety training across the system. Reducing the cost of training, ensuring training is fit for purpose, providing free training to HSRs and improving health and safety knowledge of school students could all make a real difference.

We will present this information in a briefing to all major political parties, to ensure they are across the top five issues the profession believe could make a difference to the health and safety of workplaces in Aotearoa.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this important communication.

Ngā mihi,

Selena Armstrong


Letter (submission) sent to political party leaders