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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard Magazine

Assuring performance

MALCOLM MACMILLAN updates progress on the proposed Safety Star Rating Scheme, which has now moved to its pilot phase.

In October WorkSafe New Zealand launched a pilot of the proposed Safety Star Rating Scheme (SSRS) with around 100 businesses. The scheme is still under development, so the objectives of the pilot are to test the standards, the assessment methodology and the value proposition.

The SSRS aims to allow businesses to obtain an independent and qualified assessment and assurance that they are meeting good health and safety practice. A health and safety rating scheme was recommended by the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety in 2013, and the Government subsequently directed its joint agency development.

The proposed scheme is one of the elements in the Government’s wider strategy to reduce workplace deaths, injury and work related illness in New Zealand businesses. The Government has set a target of reducing serious injuries and fatalities in our workplaces of 25 percent by 2020. The voluntary assessment scheme, being developed by WorkSafe NZ, ACC and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), is proposed to differ from some other health and safety incentive and audit schemes, which rely primarily on documented management system policies and procedures. The SSRS instead focuses on behaviour-based assessment.

At this stage, the proposed scheme is being designed and tested for medium to large businesses, although it is proposed to be open to all businesses. There are approximately 21,000 medium to large businesses in New Zealand and they account for nearly 80 percent of employees in the workforce and 68 percent of current work-related ACC accidents claims.

Results from the pilot will be consulted on and will help inform final scheme design options and proposals. Ministers will then make a final decision about whether to implement the proposed scheme, and in what shape and form. This decision is likely to be in late 2016.


The scheme is also being designed to be an educative tool offering independent and qualified guidance and advice to businesses. The scheme’s bespoke health and safety standards focus on several key areas: risk awareness, risk management, leadership, and workforce engagement and participation.

The standards were developed with health and safety industry professionals, expert design and industry reference groups and key stakeholders. The standards are not dependent on the Government’s health and safety legislative reforms but are in line with them.

There are two parts to the proposed pilot assessment process. The first is an on-line self-assessment and the second an on-site assessment. The on-site assessment process includes a detailed review of how a business manages selected risks right through their business, from senior and executive management through to “coal face” workers. One of the risks that will be assessed during each assessment will be an occupational health risk.


The proposed scheme aims to be different to existing health and safety audit schemes. It’s not proposed to be a traditional audit model that focuses on documented management system policies and procedures. Some businesses view those types of schemes as a compliance exercise rather than as an investment opportunity to continually improve performance and support business productivity.

The scheme takes a behaviour-based assessment approach. On-site assessments will focus heavily on interviews and observation of workers, at all levels, going about their work. The pilot assessment is expected to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a business in health and safety and also provide guidance on how to improve.


Should the scheme be implemented it is expected participating businesses could gain the following benefits:

  • • 
    Receive assurance and have greater confidence that they have good health and safety practices in place.
  • • 
    Receive guidance on how to improve their health and safety performance.
  • • 
    Find tendering and bidding for work that expects a high standard of health and safety performance easier.
  • • 
    Reduced costs due to injury, illness and fatalities.
  • • 
    Demonstrate leadership in health and safety within their industry and the wider community.
  • • 
    Possible financial incentive.


The workers of participating businesses should feel more confident that their employer has good health and safety practices, less at risk of work-related injury, illness or death, and be more involved in health and safety decisions and practices.

At a national level, workplace deaths, illnesses and serious injuries cost the New Zealand economy an estimated $3.5 billion a year. Should the scheme be implemented it’s expected it will contribute to:

  • • 
    Reduced cost to the economy from workplace deaths, illness and serious injuries.
  • • 
    Reduced financial and social impact on the government of workplace injury or illness.
  • • 
    Help create a more productive and efficient workforce to help drive the economy.
  • • 
    Improve health and safety culture in lesser performing businesses that might then generate more economic return.
  • • 
    Contribute to reducing workplace deaths and serious injuries by 25 percent by 2020.


The pilot is expected to run through until June 2016. Meanwhile, WorkSafe is also working with ACC and MBIE on how the proposed scheme might fit in with other health and safety audit and incentive products that are currently available.

While the proposed Safety Star Rating Scheme is different to these schemes, it is still a product intended to recognise and reward strong health and safety performance. The proposed scheme has already been tested with two businesses – a manufacturing business with 200 workers and a construction company with 35 staff.

Feedback from these initial tests was positive. Both companies made some suggestions for improvement which have been incorporated into the pilot.

To find out more about the proposed scheme, its design and test activity visit the WorkSafe NZ website ( and select “About us”. You’ll find the SSRS under “What we do”.

You can also contact the SSRS team via email to

Malcolm MacMillan from WorkSafe New Zealand is the SSRS programme manager.

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