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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard Magazine

CrowdWise—Burning question

“I am the sole health and safety person in my organisation. Most managers here seem to take the view that because I exist they don’t have to worry about health and safety. What can I do to persuade them to take the lead?”


I would like to say that the more mature the health and safety culture the less this will happen, but I am not truly convinced! To successfully engage with managers and employees, find out what pushes their buttons. H&S is not unique; there are a number of management responsibilities that require effort and engagement with managers to get them on board and to take action themselves. Remember they cannot be experts in everything and usually their prime role is productivity. Focus on the “what’s in it for me?” question. Never focus on their legal requirements, it is the moral obligation that will push their buttons: what if it was their own son or daughter or other family member who got hurt at work or died? How would they feel about that employer? Upskill them with knowledge of relevant H&S information specific to their teams and business operation. What are the advantages of them taking the lead? Respect, doing the right thing, productivity and care are all good reasons.

Chloe Stewart-Tyson, Auckland


As a waste contract manager in the UK my health and safety colleagues sometimes vexed me, until one day the epiphany occurred: health and safety is my friend – it facilitates improved working conditions, it squeezes out competitors, and it secures jobs, because the safe team gets the contract. Delivering a safer service is more efficient, with less time investigating accidents and more time doing the work. Now I am poacher turned gamekeeper. Now I am the one chasing and cajoling managers and supervisors. By stressing efficiencies gained through an inclusive safety culture, behaviours are changed. Safety is efficiency, for it is inefficient to break your workforce!

Simon Jury, Bluff


The role of health and safety needs to be defined within the organisation as an advisory role. Health and safety accountabilities need to be written into the managers’ job descriptions, with their performance measured as per annual performance processes. Shortfalls in their training need to be reviewed and monitored via individual development plans. I would advise that the leadership training also has an overhaul.

Tracy Richardson, Auckland


I dealt with this situation by raising it at a managers meeting and pointing out how a financial risk had just been treated, which was not by the finance manager. I noted it was great to see how everyone was clear that the owner of a risk was the person who created the risk, not the person who raised the risk. That was no different for health and safety risks – I can provide options and propose solutions but the treatment of H&S risks is a management responsibility, just the same as every other risk.

Ivor Smith, Trentham


Explain to them that for health and safety to be effective it needs to be integrated into the business and be a part of everything everybody does every day. This isn’t achievable by one person and certainly isn’t an efficient and effective way to consistently ensure all workers are safe. Your role as the safety professional is to advise and coach those managers on how to manage safety effectively. Given the duties within the Act, the view expressed in the question would put the business in a state of non-compliance, and its workers and officers would be at risk.

Steve Worsley, Mount Maunganui


“We have many H&S issues to tackle but we have trouble getting volunteers to seek election as H&S reps or to serve on our H&S committee. How can we excite interest among staff to step up and get involved?”

If you have faced this issue and found a solution which works, tell us what you did in no more than 100 words. Responses to by 10 May please!

Thomson Reuters

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