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The year of change

This is the year of change. The new Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force on 4 April and will radically alter the landscape we work in. I believe it gives us the opportunity to redefine the role of workplace health and safety professionals.

I see the role of the new health and safety professional as having four key facets:

  1. Leadership on health and safety matters
  2. Responsibility for building effective health and safety systems and processes
  3. Building the capability of staff to "do the right thing"
  4. Assurance – helping senior leaders meet their due diligence duties by assuring the organisation is delivering what it needs to, assuring systems and processes are working and assuring the right practices are happening on the ground.
As well as being technical experts, health and safety professionals will increasingly be expected to facilitate conversations with an organisation's senior leaders about its health and safety requirements, adding value to the executive team and board at a strategic level. See professional company director Kirsten Ferguson's excellent article "How to engage boards in safety".

HASANZ's first ever conference from 7 to 9 September at Te Papa in Wellington will focus on new professionals, new practices and new possibilities. The conference theme is "Illuminate, challenge, transform – seeing health and safety in a new light". This is the conference for all workplace health and safety professionals organised by the industry for the industry so diary it now. Ultimately, it's up to each of us to prepare for the future.

Craig Smith

HASANZ Independent Chair