Workplace Health & Safety Strategy to 2015 - Time for Review
What is the Strategy?
The Workplace Health and Safety Strategy (the Strategy) is a government plan for action intended to:
- raise awareness about workplace health and safety
- coordinate and prioritise workplace health and safety activities across stakeholders
- improve the infrastructure that supports workplace health and safety.
The Strategy was launched in June 2005, and sits within the wider context of the New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy (NZIPS), a government initiative to improve the systems and processes that support injury prevention activity.
The Strategy emphasises the importance of government leadership and the benefits of better aligning the work of agencies responsible for workplace health and safety. The Strategy recognises the leading roles of industry and communities in improving workplace health and safety in NZ. The Strategy vision, "Healthy People in Safe and Productive Workplaces", also makes the connection between workplace health and safety and productivity, recognising that good health and safety is an important characteristic of high performing workplaces.
Why was the Strategy reviewed?
When the Strategy was launched, government signalled the need for it to be reviewed after three years of implementation and is a timely opportunity to take stock of workplace health and safety in New Zealand, and ensure we are all doing things as effectively and efficiently as possible. This review provided a chance for a public contribution to that task.
What was the Review Process?
The review benefited from input from the wide range of health and safety expertise and awareness across New Zealand. To ensure the broad spectrum of opinion was adequately canvassed, the review was structured around three areas of activity:
These activities included four public events in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, consultation with government agencies and in-depth interviews with a range of health and safety practitioners and experts.
Stock-take of activities
This stock-take was a review of activities that were undertaken and completed since the Strategy was launched in 2005.
Any individual, organisation or association was invited to provide a written submission to the Department of Labour.
What was the focus of the Review?
The review aimed to result in practical and constructive improvements to workplace health and safety and business performance. These improvements require a combination of actions by government, industry and the community. Consequently, four action areas were developed to stimulate and inform contribution to the review.
Health and safety is everyone's business - government, industry and community all need to take a significant role. Similarly, leadership is not just about how senior a person is. It is as much about their commitment and drive - their dedication to ensuring that health and safety is a fundamental part of their everyday business. Leadership is important at governance and management levels, but it is just as important on the shop-floor, and that necessitates the active involvement of workers at every level.
Capability involves equipping people and organisations with the necessary skills and confidence and providing the opportunity for them to contribute to improved workplace health and safety. Capability is critical when building healthy, safe and productive workplaces. This applies equally to small and large businesses and is critical to the work of professional groups and government agencies charged with developing health and safety policy.
Developing effective systems, processes and policy requires sound knowledge. Knowledge informs leadership and fuels the development and maintenance of capacity in the health and safety sector. Knowledge includes health and safety research, incidence data, occupational health data, international trends, workplace experiences, and the accessibility and quality of technical guidance.
Health and safety infrastructure
Workplaces do not operate in isolation. There is a legislative framework, there is a worker compensation and rehabilitation scheme (ACC), and there are a range of training organisations and standards. In addition, workplaces operate in a wider and dynamic labour market. There are also workplace specific systems and processes.
In combination, these constitute the infrastructure for health and safety in the workplace. This infrastructure determines the expectations of government, industry and the community, and provides the tools required for the health and safety sector to achieve higher levels of performance.
What were the key questions of the Review?
The review effectively sought to answer four questions:
- What progress has been made in workplace health and safety in New Zealand over the last three years?
- What is working well and should be continued or expanded?
- What are the main barriers to achieving the goal of "healthy people in safe and productive workplaces"?
- What should the current and future priorities for workplace health and safety in New Zealand be?