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October 29, 2020 2 min read

A lot of the push back we hear from employers about adopting safe work practices relates to why all the blame appears to lie with employers. I’m constantly reminded of those great adages, “taking responsibility for one’s own actions” and “good old common sense” so why should employers be the ones who are responsible when things go wrong?!

Know what you are responsible for

You might be surprised to discover that Health & Safety Legislation is more business friendly than most people think. In fact, it agrees with employers… people do need to take more responsibility for the aspects of work they have control over… not just you as a manager, but also your employees. Like your employees, as an employer, you have responsibilities – your role is to facilitate a safe work place. If you haven’t done enough to facilitate safe working conditions for your workers (the element you have control over) you could very well find yourself in some deep poo if a serious injury occurs on one of your workplaces. But notice this statement uses the word “facilitate”.

Working together to get the job done Employers can’t be all knowing or all seeing on every aspect of their business – it simply isn’t humanly possible and therefore doesn’t meet the test of “reasonableness”. Health & Safety Legislation is all about what is “reasonably practicable” and therefore recognises you can’t be everywhere at the same time. That’s why your role is to facilitate Safe and Healthy Work practices by providing, for example, adequate training and adequate equipment. Assuming you have facilitated systems and processes in a reasonably practicable way, it then becomes the responsibility of your employees to adapt the systems and processes you have put in place. But that often requires a change in Workplace Culture – which is often where the real challenges in implementing Safe and Healthy Work Practices can lie… and let’s be honest, why some businesses think it’s all just a bit too hard.

With good guidance, adopting a safe workplace culture isn’t that hard

Think riding a bike (once you know how to do it, you don’t even need to think about it any more). In our experience, moving to a safe work culture, isn’t usually difficult. With all the media coverage, WorkSafe NZ visits and changes to legislation it’s not just employers are more open to the idea of creating safe practices, their employees are too.
Barb Hutchinson
Barb Hutchinson



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