One year after new health and safety legislation came into force and a study of almost 800 industry professionals is offering insight into how the changes have altered policies around the country.
Conducted by Safeguard, the survey sought responses from health and safety practitioners and representatives as well as business owners and senior executives.
One of the most positive responses came when participants were asked if health and safety is taken seriously with 78 per cent agreeing it is – an impressive 11 per cent increase compared to last year.
Another significant improvement was seen when participants were asked if workplace risks are discussed with other businesses which share the same site – a key element of the new act. This year, 72 per cent said shared risks are discussed, compared to 63 per cent last year.
While responses to almost all of the 15 questions showed improvement, there were some notable areas of concern highlighted by the survey.
Only 48 per cent of respondents felt confident that the health of workers is taken seriously, compared to 78 per cent who are confident about safety, and only 47 per cent were confident no one would be harmed or made unwell by the activities carried out at their workplace.
Further, only 46 per cent of respondents felt that organisations view health and safety as an opportunity to improve rather than just to comply with the law.
Terry Johnson, director of Simpson Grierson’s health and safety advisory services, told HRM that the legislative changes have encouraged a culture of compliance across New Zealand.
“The general feeling is that it’s made people re-evaluate or review their level of compliance – not just with the new act but in general,” says Johnson.
“I think organisations that were already conscious and quite active in the health and safety space – the ones that were at the forefront in New Zealand in terms of health and safety – they’ve still taken a step back to review their levels of compliance to the new regulations and legislation,” he explains.
“For those organisations that may have been conscious around health and safety but not as active, same thing, everyone’s tended to do that. There are also some organisations that probably weren’t doing much at all and many of them have used the act as a catalyst to be much more proactive so it really has created a compliance culture across the country.”
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