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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard Magazine

What Do You Think of WSMP?

We asked members of the Safeguard forum to answer a few questions about ACC’s WSMP audit: what works, what doesn’t, and what advice they’d give to the team designing the new Safety Star Rating. It was a popular survey – 79 people responded, including Colin Hearn from Rangiora, who was drawn from the hat and wins a copy of A Life in Error by James Reason.

Here are the questions, with an edited selection of text responses.

Q1: Which of the following OHS management system standards have you used in NZ in the last 5 years (besides WSMP)?

AS/NZS 480148.1%
OHSAS 1800111.4%

Q2: As a paper systems audit designed to obtain a levy discount, how would you rate WSMP?

Pretty good53.2%
Not very good8.9%

Q3: As a measure of the risk of being injured or becoming ill, how would you rate WSMP?

Pretty good19.0%
Not very good26.6%

Q4: What is the best thing about WSMP (apart from the discount)?

Among the many suggestions these four themes stood out:

  • • 
    Assurance – that systems are in place
  • • 
    Framework – a template for record keeping
  • • 
    Scrutiny – that someone from outside is keeping tabs
  • • 
    Motivation – for management to focus on OHS

It’s a good baseline to work towards for companies wanting to make a start on health and safety.

Requires employers to make plans for rehabilitation and alternative duties.

It helps to get the attention of senior management and to set a framework for middle management.

It attempts to cover the spectrum of a safety management system. It doesn’t cover it all but it is a good start.

It focuses businesses on getting organised about H&S and putting reasonable structures in place. It also compels a degree of employee involvement.

You can use WSMP as a rating for preferred contractors.

For a small company like ours, the discount is way less than the cost of meeting the requirements. The best thing is using the audit and the preparations for the audit as a tool to check our systems and staff engagement to make sure our own health and safety systems are as good as we can get them.

It ensures you “touch” each area of safety, giving some structure to your H&S system.

Q5: What is the least satisfactory thing about WSMP?

On the negative side the themes which emerged were:

  • • 
    Disconnected – too paper-based, tick-box, doesn’t check actual behaviour
  • • 
    Open to manipulation – it’s too easy to game the system to pass
  • • 
    Complacency – management can think OHS is sorted
  • • 
    Auditor inconsistency – and some have no experience of the industry sector

Management places disproportionate value on WSMP believing that the external qualification is an endorsement of a sound health and safety system. Leads to complacency and justification for doing nothing more.

It predominantly measures the system, which is only a small part of what effects H&S outcomes. Culture and behaviour have a much bigger impact than the paperwork.

With a little effort to record meetings and a safety manual slapped together (or purchased online for $50) you too can pass. It’s too easy to line up your ducks without actually achieving anything.

The SMS does not have to have any relationship to how safety is actually managed in practice.

Policies and paper don’t make a health and safety system – people and attitudes do.

It does nothing to improve H&S as it does not focus on the primary risk areas of organisations.

Companies with tertiary WSMP accreditation can still have high injury rates. As long as they are properly following their procedures for reporting and rehabilitation they can still maintain tertiary.

It tends to focus on how good your paper trail is rather than on the safety culture in the organisation.

The Contractor section is weak and does not comply with legislation. Hazard management is not strong enough, with not enough focus on identifying hazards.

Q6: What ONE piece of advice would you give the team designing the new Safety Star Rating System?

Investigate staff understanding of OHS practice more randomly than in the present process to get a better understanding of what happens, rather than what the system says will happen.

Create something that is valid and tangible, that will help to save lives – not just give discounts for lip service.

Ensure that measurements reflect both quantitative and qualitative ratings that are agreed and supported by the industry, regulator, unions and the people at the coalface undertaking the work.

Look less at the paperwork and more around the culture of an organisation, which really dictates how safe it is.

Include some form of claims history to sort those who are having lots of claims and poor RTW outcomes from getting high level passes.

Look for positive performance indicators (don’t measure claims data).

A fuller range of responses is available in a longer version of this story at

Thomson Reuters

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