How to Achieve Good Health and Safety Governance

Many organisations still need to shift their focus on improving their health and safety management and performance. Since September 2019, there have been a total of 88 work fatalities and over 30,000 work injuries in New Zealand.

Positive health and safety culture begins with the Board and spreads throughout the entire organisation. As an Officer, it is the Board’s legal responsibility to exercise due diligence to ensure the PCBU complies with its health and safety duties and obligations under the HSWA2015.

Good Health and Safety Governance

The core elements to good governance is commitment and leadership. Moreover, ‘informed leadership’ is required for successful health and safety. This means the Board needs to be aware of the organisation’s risks, and should have a clear understanding of control methods and systems that are in place. They should understand how to ’measure’ health and safety performance so they can determine whether systems are appropriate and are being implemented effectively.

Officers need to:

  1. Know what is being done to monitor and measure health and safety performance of the PCBU.
  2. Understand the organisational risks and how these are being controlled.
  3. Make sure they get reports on health and safety matters on a regular basis to ensure that information regarding health and safety flows back to them.
  4. Make sure the reports provide them with the information they need to ensure that the PCBU is meeting its health and safety obligations.

Measuring Health and Safety

Too often, Boards are presented with health and safety reports that lack critical and informative data required to properly manage risks and improve health and safety performance.

Generally, the focus has been on measuring the negative outcomes (aka lag indicators), such as number of injuries, number of claims and lost time injury. Although these measures provide somewhat useful data, they have been criticised for only measuring failure, and do not reflect the organisation’s actions to improve performance. Read more about lag indicators here.

Informed health and safety moves away from just relying on incident and accident data to tracking the operational and strategic activity in the health and safety system. In order for the Board to make practical decisions and drive effective systems, they need reports that include real underlying health and safety data in the organisation. A health and safety metrics framework is recommended to ensure all relevant information is being captured accurately.

Through reviewing the right health and safety metrics, Boards and Senior Leadership will have a real time understanding of how the health and safety system is working and whether improvement initiatives are making a difference or whether further changes are needed.

At Working Wise, we work alongside organisations to provide a measured and integrated approach to improve health and safety in workplaces. Our GOSH system provides a framework for health and safety metrics, where organisation can effectively measure their health and safety performance in one single system. GOSH can also instantly produce real time reports to present to the Board. Contact us for more information!

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