In New Zealand, too many people are injured or die as a result of what they do for a living. The New Zealand Institute of Safety Management’s (NZISM) purpose is to influence better health and safety outcomes at work.
As part of this effort, NZISM has commenced a major project to coordinate the actions of the three key stakeholders in advanced health and safety education in New Zealand: the employers; our students; and NZ tertiary institutions. A soon-to-be-released study produced by the NZISM Tertiary Lead will reveal that these three groups are working largely in isolation from each other and, as a result, the safety education environment is disjointed, relatively unresponsive to the needs of the country, and inconsistent in its content and approach.
As a starting point, the study observed that the 2013 Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety called for a ‘step-change’ in New Zealand safety to radically improve our woeful record of workplace injuries and fatalities. It anticipated that … “within 10 years New Zealand will be among the best places in the world for people to go to work each day and come home safe and sound”. Nine years on and this ‘step-change’ has not happened:
Last week, a further two workers died in two separate port incidents.
What will it take to make the ‘step-change’ required by the Independent Taskforce, way back in 2013?
NZISM conducted a systematic qualitative study – seeking the thoughts and opinions of the three stakeholder groups – along with a review of relevant scientific literature. Eight key themes emerged from this research. Each theme has been analysed in reference to the literature, and will result in a number of recommendations to be released in the coming weeks.
New Zealand lags well behind other OECD countries in its safety record. Our farms, forests, construction sites, ports, and many other places of work in this country are simply not managed well enough to prevent fatalities and injuries.
The recommendations of the NZISM study are required in order to achieve significant improvement in New Zealand’s health and safety record – and to achieve the ‘step-change’ called for in the 2013 Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety report.
This year, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work will not be a celebration of success in New Zealand. It will be yet another ‘Workers’ Memorial Day’. But NZISM expects that with a higher standard of safety education and application, New Zealand will achieve meaningful improvement in its safety performance in the coming years. We have to.