Effective Workplace Health and Safety Management Needs an Aligned Organisational Business Culture Part One

As part of my work in health and safety management, I am often asked how a business can ensure that their workplace safety practices will be effective. My response is to advise removing focus from compliance and exposure to penalties to one that drives change and performance through the organisations business culture.


Effecting change and performance requires aligned business cultures; however, building or revitalising a culture is not easy and requires long-term commitment and analysis. Without this alignment organisational shift is unlikely to occur and the resources applied for change will be
wasted. Organisational norms, practices and values act as a strong mobilising force that creates shared understanding and strategic focus.


The new Health and Safety at Work Act emphasises workplace safety management as a pivotal function of business and demands compliance as well as effective business practice outcomes. If business managers and directors cannot clearly show that they are implementing successful health and safety activities then they are deservedly exposing themselves to legal ramifications as well as the corrosion of their businesses reputation.


Health and Safety Perspective


For many individuals involved in the implementation and management of workplace health and safety the translation and expression of their obligations is extremely daunting and confusing. There exists a temptation to move the responsibility into the ‘too hard basket’ and ignore them or implement a ‘veneer’ type approach that lacks the resilience and comprehensive depth needed to be effective and is nowhere near expected minimum practice standard.


Basic Requirements


The basic requirements of effective health and safety management are reasonably clear.


  • Hazard identification and management
  • Safe workplace practices and procedures
  • Employee participation
  • Planning and reporting


However, their successful implementation and on-going development needs a strong and supportive business culture incorporating the following.


  • Visible leadership
  • Staff commitment
  • Extensive health and safety working knowledge
  • Clear understanding of what are the shared health and safety performance goals
  • Clear understanding of the business priority placed on health and safety management
  • Comprehensive communications regarding health and safety matters


“Based in Waikato, Kevin is a highly experienced senior executive with over 35 years management experience in both the private and public sectors.  Kevin has successfully led significant change and performance improvement initiatives in sales, occupational health an
d safety management and vocational education.”