The umbrella body for New Zealand’s OSH professions developed the Register of Workplace Health and Safety Professionals, which was officially launched on 27 July to provide a one-stop-shop for businesses to find reliable OSH advice and services.
The register, which received funding from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and WorkSafe New Zealand, grew from a recommendation made in the final report by the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety, which was set up by the government after the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster - in which 29 people died - to investigate the reasons for the country’s poor safety and health record.
The taskforce spent 10 months investigating and made a number of recommendations, one of which was that New Zealand faced “a huge capability and capacity problem” in terms of its safety and health workforce.
On the supply-side, it found that advice from OSH consultants and other professionals was of variable quality and approaches, and that there was a limited supply of expert advice from those OSH professionals.
The lack of any requirement to meet standard competence or qualification levels before professionals offer their services was seen as a key contributor to the lack of quality advice. The taskforce also noted that, with the exception of medically trained professionals, such as nurses and doctors, registration was not compulsory. In addition, many OSH advisers operated outside any registered professional body, so avoided the requirements to demonstrate qualifications or competence.
On the demand-side, businesses, particularly micro ones, struggled to identify appropriately qualified workplace OSH professionals, so were unable to determine who was best to choose and rely on for advice.
The taskforce recommended that the industry work on improving its accreditation standards and on putting in place a voluntary registration system.
Launching the register, WorkSafe NZ chief executive Nicole Rosie, said: “The HASANZ register is a great first point of reference for businesses seeking quality, reliable and professional health and safety advice and services. There are robust and verifiable processes underpinning the register which means those on [it] will have verified competency – something we think is very important for improving the quality and professionalism of health and safety advice in New Zealand.”
HASANZ executive director Philip Aldridge said the register was free for businesses to use. He added: “The HASANZ register works like a matching service between businesses and different types of health and safety professionals, connecting them with a list of experts who can advise on solutions to their health and safety problems – everything from asbestos to worker fatigue.”
Aldridge said that OSH professionals that wanted to be on the register had to belong to a HASANZ member association and meet stringent registration standards covering qualifications, experience, continuing professional development, good character, a code of conduct and insurance. “This also gives businesses access to a recognised complaints procedure and disciplinary process,” he said.