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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Safeguard Magazine

Professional standards: Competent by association

The Health and Safety Association of New Zealand was set up in September 2014 with a key aim of raising professional standards across the health and safety workforce. PETER BATEMAN talks to its establishment chair, Shenagh Gleisner.

Safeguard: Why does HASANZ exist?

It was signalled first in the Working Safer blueprint for reform. There wasn’t a collective body of all the associations which could speak with one voice and show leadership for all the health and safety-related professions. The aim is to build the quality of that workforce, and to build the confidence of business in it.

Q: How does it differ from its predecessor, OHSIG?

OHSIG did some good things, and we will build on them. But HASANZ is different. Its foundation members include ten associations, without being dominated by any. We are making a real effort to ensure all are represented. It is a united group which is working very well together. Also, it is being supported through WorkSafe because the government understands that to get the quality of organisation needed by business there needs to be some support in the establishment phase. But we do need to show a path towards independence and autonomy.

Q: Where does your role fit?

I’m the establishment chair and I work four days a month on HASANZ. My background is in leadership and governance. I’m a member of various boards and I was a public sector chief executive. So my expertise is in relationships and strategy. I have a passion for health and safety but I’m not a health and safety practitioner. When the establishment phase is over my successor will be chosen by the group, just as they chose me. It’s their organisation. I am a servant-leader. They are the experts.

Q: How is HASANZ funded?

From WorkSafe. They support us with part-time staff: me as chair, an implementation manager, and a communications advisor. We all work with the member bodies. Representatives of all the founding associations have meetings with us every six weeks and WorkSafe funds the travel. They put in a great deal of work themselves voluntarily, quite apart from the work they do for their own associations. They are working very well together and are getting to know and respect what each association does. I’d like to feel that if anybody goes to any of them, each of them can talk about the others and know when to refer because they know what their own association’s members are good at, and what the other associations are good at.

Q: Is your main project to create a register of competent OHS professionals?

Yes. We’ve looked at registers all over the world. We have thought about what might be the options for the gateway to the register. The register will be for individuals but it is very likely that the hurdle – if you like – would be accreditation by an association. That’s why it is important that all member associations have accreditation systems, with a complaints procedure, code of ethics and so on.

That will provide an incentive for people working in this field to join an association and to keep upping their practice to maintain their competence. That’s good for the whole health and safety workforce. We are running workshops with businesses to make absolutely sure that the way we go about designing the register is going to suit businesses, because we really want them to use it. We also want to make it easy for small businesses to use.

In terms of timing, it’s a balance: we want a register in place as soon as possible, but we need one that is really reliable and that business will turn to, so the register’s strength and reputation builds. It’s quite a juggling act.

Q: How will the register distinguish between practitioners who are salaried employees and those who are consultants for hire?

The focus will be on people who can advise business – the consultants – but the register will include employees. We are working through all of this, and nothing is set in stone. We are engaging with people so we can shape the register in a way that will work.

Q: How will HASANZ engage with the tertiary education sector and the OHS qualifications it offers?

Our implementation manager, Karen Chaney, is on the governance group of the Targeted Review of Qualifications being undertaken by The Skills Organisation, the ITO charged with reviewing health and safety qualifications. We want to bring the voice of the profession to that process.

Q: What are the key challenges for HASANZ?

The first is the supply of, and demand for, high quality health and safety professionals. Supply and demand both have to ramp up over time. So our “5 Quick Questions” (see box) is a way to encourage businesses to be a bit more sophisticated, to ask questions of potential advisers. The second challenge, and this is more internal, is to make sure that we have a sustainable funding path. HASANZ needs to be the voice of people in the sector to the government, so we need independent, sustainable funding.

Q: Some practitioners are chronic non-joiners of any association. What do you say to them?

If we do our job well then we hope we will attract those people into an association because it’ll be worth it for them. That’s the big journey!

5 QUICK QUESTIONS

HASANZ has developed this checklist as a first step to help businesses choose a qualified and competent advisor (Longer term, in 2016 HASANZ will launch an online national register of workplace health and safety practitioners.) The five questions give an easy way to screen prospective advisers and check the quality of their service. They can be downloaded at hasanz.org.nz, under “Information”.

THE CURRENT MEMBERS OF HASANZ ARE:

ANZSOMAustralian/NZ Society of Occupational Medicine
HFESNZHuman Factors and Ergonomics Society of NZ
MESNZMaintenance Engineers Society of NZ
NZIHSMNZ Institute of Hazardous Substances Management
NZISMNZ Institute of Safety Management
NZOHNANZ Occupational Health Nurses Association
NZOHSNZ Occupational Hygiene Society
NZSCNZ Safety Council
PNZPhysiotherapy New Zealand (Occupational Health Group)
OTNZOccupational Therapy NZ

PETER BATEMAN

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