Today marks a year since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and employees are beginning to see positive changes in their workplace.
A survey of 776 industry professionals conducted by Safeguard, has provided some insight into the changes the legislation has driven and the areas that still need addressing.
- Positively, 78% of respondents believe safety is taken seriously in their workplace, compared to 67% the previous year.
- 83% felt that health and safety has improved at their workpalce in the last 12 months, compared to 78.2% the year before.
- 72% said risks were being discussed with businesses sharing a work site which was a key requirement set out by the act.
- 94.3% recognised that an organisation that manages health and safety well is more likely to be successful.
While improvements were seen across the 15 areas discussed in the survey, there were some areas where figures remain low.
- 48% of respondents felt that the health of workers is taken seriously compared to 78% when asked about safety
- Only 47% were confident that no one would be harmed or made unwell by the activities carried out at their workplace
- 54% felt that organisations view health and safety as a way to comply with the law rather than an opportunity to improve
- Healthcare employees were 10% less optimistic in regards to health and safety improvements
While many of the survey respondents feel that health and safety is improving overall, the accident and fatality at work rate remains high across New Zealand and improvements have been slow to surface.
53% of respondents lacking confidence that no one would be harmed in their workplace, is a particularly worrying statistic. Not only does this indicate that employees lack confidence in the organisations health and safety policies, but this worry could affect employee health and productivity at work.
What more should we be doing?
To tackle the issues revealed by the survey, businesses need to focus on creating a safety culture in the workplace. Many of the respondents referred to a negative attitude by businesses towards health and safety in the workplace. Some felt it was considered a ‘burden’ while there was an overwhelming feeling of business doing the bare minimum in order to comply. Some of the comments included;
It’s now taken seriously as a compliance risk, but only seeking legal compliance is about being as bad as the law will allow you to be.
Unfortunately many Health & Safety consultants perpetuate negative attitudes by offering generic documentation and taking a compliance-first approach.
A lot of PCBUs noted the legislation change and just asked: what are the new compliance rules? They literally just changed their tick-sheets.
Most of my clients are more concerned with compliance than actually preventing bad things happening.
Businesses need to turn around this way of thinking. Focusing on the wellbeing of employees because you care about them will transform the workplace. And not just in terms of health and safety. Happy, healthy employees will also be more productive, more motivated and more committed to achieving company goals.
Read our blog on transforming safety culture through leadership.
It is also important to remember all employees when considering health and safety at work. Remote and lone workers are sometimes overlooked particularly in regards to employee wellbeing. Yet the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, takes all employees into account from office based and field staff to lone workers and even contractors and volunteers.
Safety at work is not only important to comply with legislation but it is good business. A safe work environment will create secure, productive employees, reduce sick days and avoid the costs associated with accidents and incidents.
If you haven’t already, download our guide; 3 business reasons not to ignore lone worker safety