A new way of thinking

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) calls for a new way of thinking about health and safety where everybody in a workplace shares responsibility for making sure people get home healthy and safe.

There's been a lot of noise and a degree of scaremongering in the market, accompanying the HSWA's arrival. It's timely to take a deep breath and look at what the new law actually requires. In most cases, businesses will be able to meet their responsibilities by taking some simple steps like reviewing their health and safety practices and identifying the critical risks, alongside their workers. It starts with involving staff in the conversation.

Workplace health and safety professionals can help spread the message that, instead of ticking boxes, businesses now need to think about what is the right thing to do to keep their workers healthy and safe. WorkSafe New Zealand has produced some excellent tools to assist with this.

Workplace health and safety professionals have a key role in helping directors and chief executives meet their due diligence duties under the HSWA by ensuring their company is delivering what it needs to, and that the right health and safety systems and processes are in place and working well in practice.Often persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) think they know what's happening on the ground, while the reality is often very different. It's the health and safety advisor's job to help close that gap.

This is just the start of a long-term process of change which I expect will see a significant reduction in workplace injury and harm in New Zealand.

HASANZ CONFERENCE 2016 gives us the opportunity to reflect on our performance in this new environment – seeing health and safety in a new light. If you want to influence new practices in this new world, please submit a paper to present. The call for papers closes 20 April. Visit our conference website for more information.

Craig Smith

HASANZ Independent Chair