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The fortnightly briefing on health and safety in New Zealand

28 July 2008


The Department of Labour has been criticised for neglecting the development of codes of practice to help employers improve health and safety practices in their workplaces. The latest report from the National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee asks for the DoL to devote significant resources to the development of approved codes of practice, and the revision of outdated codes, in order to fulfil its role as lead agency for the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy, and to properly implement the intent of the HSE Act. Releasing the report earlier this month, NOHSAC chair Professor Neil Pearce called for greater commitment from government agencies. "The DoL is required to provide information and education help employers, employees and other people to improve workplace safety," he said. "We know that businesses, especially small enterprises, don't have the resources to source this information themselves." He said that employers, unions and OHS practitioners are "deeply concerned" about the lack of guidance material available from government agencies. NOHSAC, with the Australian Safety and Compensation Council, last year commissioned research to determine the characteristics of effective OHS guidance material. The researchers conducted detailed interviews with 54 respondents from regulators, industry, unions and OHS specialists, did a literature review, and used information from an online survey of users of OHS guidance material. The report notes that of the 29 ACOPs listed on the DoL website, 17 are more than 10 years old, and only four have been issued in the last five years. Many ACOPs refer to outdated legislation and superseded standards, definitions which have since changed, or publications which no longer exist. The report notes the Robens model for performance-based legislation ­ such as the HSE Act ­ requires guidance material for compliance and best practice to be made available to employers. Otherwise the legislation will not work. In recent years, the report notes, ACC has taken on the role of issuing OHS guidance material. However, the quality of some of this material is criticised. "While the material produced is more recent than that provided by DoL, the content can be of questionable preventative value." The report cites the ACC publication How to deal with noise at work, which it says lacks reference to the objective measurement of noise in the workplace, and contains vague advice. "Guidance material should not be simplified to the point that it ceases to be effective in preventing harm in the workplace." Writing in the report's foreward, Professor Pearce notes the DoL has received "significant additional funding" for OHS activities, and calls for much of it to be used to promote best practice. "This commitment needs to be sustained over the long term, be focused on current and emerging issues, and become a core part of the services provided by the DoL." Recommendations include: · ACOPs and other guidelines to be developed in response to workplace exposures, emerging issues, and surveillance of disease and injury; · DoL to develop guidelines about the development of ACOPs and guidelines; · Lead OHS agencies to attract and maintain core specialist staff; · all COPs and guidelines to be reviewed for relevance and accuracy within 10 years of publication; · guidance material produced by agencies other than the regulator should be aligned with the regulator's publications; · use ACOPs and guidelines strategically eg reference them in the ACC audit. The report, Review of the key characteristics that determine the efficacy of OHS instruments, is available at

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Jackie Brown-Haysom phone 09 360 3723 or [email protected]

Alan Binks phone 04 496 2756 or [email protected]



The median annual income before tax of New Zealand health and safety practitioners is just over $68,000, according to the salary survey in the July/August edition of Safeguard magazine published this week. The anonymous web-based survey attracted 180 responses, making it the most comprehensive study of pay rates in the industry that we at Update are aware of. Highlights from the magazine's analysis include: · 42.2% of respondents have been in OHS for 10 years or more. · A Bachelor's degree (19.4%) just pipped a 1-year diploma and a short-course diploma (18.3% each) as the highest respondent OHS qualification. · 91.7% of respondents describe themselves as employees. · Manufacturing (26.7%) is the biggest industry sector, followed by local and central government (15.0%). · 75.0% of respondents are safety practitioners, 12.2% private sector advisors, 6.7% health nurses, 5.0% government advisors, and 1.1% were hygienists. · 82.2% of respondents have some kind of OHS responsibility in organisations with 100 or more staff. · Salary bands followed a bell curve ranging from below $40,000 (few) to $90,000 - 99,999 (few), except for a spike of 11.1% respondents whose salary was $100,000 or more. · Most respondents (56.7%) felt their salary was lower than non-OHS roles of similar responsibility; only 3.9% felt it was higher. Our analysis of the data includes observations such as: · The people with 10 or more years experience earn more, but not much more beyond those with from four to nine years in OHS. · Those with 10+ years experience are best qualified overall, yet nearly one-fifth of them have no higher qualifications than NZQA units or safety rep courses. · Qualifications boost pay, though not hugely. · Of the four industry sectors with more than 10% of respondents, manufacturing pays least (median $62,500) and construction the most (median $78,000). · The highest earners are also the most highly qualified, but fully half of them have no greater OHS qualification than a 1-year diploma. The full Safeguard salary survey dataset, stripped of any text responses to guarantee respondent anonymity, is available for sale for $95 + gst so you can conduct your own analysis. Order from our customer care team at 0800 10 60 60 or via email at [email protected]


Many companies do not understand where health and safety roles fit into the organisational structure, often resulting in salary levels well below other roles of similar responsibility. This was a common theme to emerge from the salary survey respondents, who were moved to write a comment about the state of OHS salaries. Another was the wide variation in salaries, both within an organisation and between organisations in the same industry sector. An edited selection of strictly anonymised comments will appear later this week on the Safeguard website. In the meantime, here is our selection for Update. "Health and safety is often lumped in with other roles: training, environmental, HR, tea lady. This can reduce the perceived expertise that is needed to do the job, leading it to be viewed as a lower-skilled position than it really is." "Employers generally do not have a good understanding of the skill-set required to effectively manage workplace HSE and tend to undervalue the contribution that safety practitioners make to their business." "Salaries in OHS differ remarkably between companies, likely attributed to two factors: the company's understanding of the OHS role, and the lack of understanding of loss controls and the worth the role brings to its business. "OHS people are under-valued. The OHS role should report directly to the CEO." Other respondents felt OHS salaries were just too low, especially compared to overseas. "Salaries are too low. Government inspectors in particular are so badly paid no wonder they all leave." "OHS salaries are slow to respond to global trends in this field. Having worked overseas and experienced this myself, I am considering heading offshore again." "No real incentive to remain in NZ. My colleagues in Australia earn 50% more than me." A number of respondents linked low OHS salaries to a perceived lack of professionalism in the OHS sector. "OHS pay isn't comparable to other roles that hold the same or even less responsibility. We need to regulate our industry to be taken seriously and get paid what we are worth." "It shows what people are willing to put up with for the sake of a passion. We are being used. The sooner we have one body and professionalism the better." However, there were a few respondents who looked on the bright side. Here's one: "As the role and value of OHS practitioners have become recognised we are now a much sought-after commodity in the workplace. When I first started in the industry pay was around the administration level; now it is a professional salary.


Health and safety managers in New South Wales are earning salaries in the range A$100,000 to $A160,000, according to the Hudson HR Salary Guide 2008 released recently.


The guide looks at OHS salaries across the Australian states and territories, dividing them into manager, consultant, and coordinator levels. (Consultant here means a mid-level position, not a self-employed person). The report notes there is particular demand for safety practitioners in Victoria and South Australia. Here are the figures, in Australian dollars (000) and not including superannuation, bonuses or share options. Coordinator Consultant Manager NSW n/a $80-100K $100-160K VIC n/a $80-120K $120-150K QLD $65-85K $80-120K $120-150K SA $60K+ $70+ $80+ ACT $55-65K $65-85K $80-100K WA $65-75K $80-120K $120-150K it was agreed that there was no formal record of him having received training and he had not completed a requisite training module. The supervisor who had been training the injured man had told him not to use the saw until he had read the training module. The team leader on duty at the time of the accident was unaware of this instruction, however, and asked the man to fill in for an absent worker. Judge Wade noted that the trainer had not told the other supervisors that the man could not use the saw and, while there were signs saying saws could not be used by untrained personnel, there was no lock to prevent this happening. The availability of overtime meant there was an obvious temptation for workers to accept such work before they were adequately trained, he said. The Supply Chain has lodged an appeal against the fines, which is scheduled for hearing in September.


A supermarket supply company has been fined $70,000 for what the sentencing judge says was a deliberate decision not to report a serious harm incident involving an employee. The Supply Chain Ltd, part of the Progressive Enterprises group, was fined $35,000 each on charges brought under s25(3)(a) and (b) of the HSE Act, for failing to give the secretary of labour immediate verbal notification of the incident, and to provide written notice within seven days. It was also fined $15,000 under s13(b), for failing to adequately train the man who was injured, and was ordered to pay him $1000 in reparations (Manukau DC, April 4). The charges arose out of an incident in March 2007 when the worker severely lacerated his right thumb while using a bandsaw to cut animal bones in the company's beef cutting room. He suffered serious muscle and tendon damage, requiring a skin graft, four days in hospital, and three months off work. Judge Roy Wade said the company had offered no explanation for its failure to report the incident and he was driven to conclude that it had been the result of "a deliberate decision not to comply with statutory obligations ... in the hope that the company's transgressions would go unnoticed and unpunished." Such failures, he said, should carry significant deterrent sentences, comparing the situation to that of a motorist who did not stop after an accident in a bid to avoid prosecution. The judged rejected the company's argument that the two failure to report charges should be treated as one, noting that the HSE Act required both verbal and written reporting of serious harm incidents. "Of course, if an employer complies with one of the statutory requirements but not both, it might lead to the inference that the requisite failure was due to simply an oversight. However, where both requirements are breached, the irresistible inference must be that the failure was deliberate and cynical." These circumstances called for a "very substantial starting point" for the fine, he said, setting it at $50,000 for each offence, with a 33% deduction in recognition of an early guilty plea and subsequent cooperation. On the s13 charge, he noted that the injured man worked as a packer, but had wanted to do overtime which was only available in the cutting room. There was conflicting evidence about the amount of bandsaw training he had received, but

A small extra job that went beyond the scope of a completed Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) cost a contractor his life and the company that engaged him a $55,000 HSE Act penalty. Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd was fined $20,000 under s18(1) (a) and ordered to pay $35,000 in reparations to the family of a welder who died when he was crushed beneath a limestone


hopper (Westport DC, April 2). The company had already put $50,000 into a trust fund for the man's widow and children, as well as helping them with a number of incidental expenses. The victim had been engaged by Holcim to replace the troughs and rollers on a conveyor system that carried limestone between a hopper and a rock crusher at its Westport quarry. Limestone pieces that were too large when they came out of the crusher dropped into the hopper and were fed onto a conveyor going back to the crushing equipment. The victim and a Holcim employee began work on the conveyor system together, having first completed the required JHA to identify all hazards associated with the project. It was subsequently decided that the hopper should be removed so the conveyor belt skirtings could be more easily replaced, and a Holcim manager promised to provide a crane for the task on the following Monday. There was a tacit understanding that no work would be done on the hopper in the meantime. On the preceding Friday afternoon, however, the victim's co-worker returned from lunch to find the man on his knees beneath the hopper, which had tipped and come to rest on the back of his neck. His co-worker managed to lift the hopper and pull him free, but he could not be resuscitated. Department of Labour investigations found that the victim had cut the mounting bolts on the hopper, apparently to speed up work on Monday. Unbeknown to him, however, the hopper was designed to hold a build-up of limestone at one end, to reduce wear and tear on the walls when rock fragments were dropped into it. When the bolts were cut, this build-up caused the hopper to tip, trapping him. The JHA had not been amended when the decision to remove the hopper was made, even though a Holcim manager was aware of this change. Had it been updated and signed off by the company at the time, it is likely that the limestone hazard would have been identified. Sentencing the company, Judge Jacki Moran said the victim had made a fatal error of judgement by beginning work that he had not been instructed to do, but if Holcim had ensured that its JHA procedures were strictly adhered to it would have reduced the likelihood of harm. to violence," says Bentley. "For example, environmental factors, like the presence of money onsite, could contribute to violent incidents." The researchers are also interested in how workplaces deal with workplace violence, and whether the potential for such incidents is recognised as a hazard. Bentley and his colleagues are working with NZISM and the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) to collect data for their research, because they think that people working in OHS and HR are likely to know about any incidences of violence in their workplace. The survey is available at http://workplace-violence.survey24. All responses are confidential and anonymous.


The annual 3M awards for innovation in health and safety are again under way. Entries close on August 15, after which a panel of judges will select three finalists to speak about their initiatives at the Occupational Health & Safety Industry Group (OHSIG) conference in Auckland on September 10-12. The winner, who receives $3000 to spend on professional development, will be chosen at the conference and named at the conference dinner. For more information visit or email Andrea Parr at [email protected]


Establishing the incidence rate and types of workplace violence in New Zealand is the main goal of a survey currently being conducted by the Department of Management and International Business at Massey University. Dr Tim Bentley, one of the project researchers, says that the survey is an exploratory study into the issue because very little is known about acts of physical violence committed against Kiwi employees. Violence is a major problem in US workplaces where it is a big cause of workplace fatalities, especially for women, he says. "While we don't expect to find a problem of the same magnitude here, New Zealand society does tolerate a certain level of aggression so the survey results could tell us a lot about a hazard that we don't yet know much about." The researchers hope to get responses which reveal what the extent of violence in the Kiwi workplace is, as well as some indication of the types of violence that can occur and the situations it tends to occur in. "We are also interested in the identification of risk factors ­ whether interpersonal or organisational ­ that might lead

The bare bones of the penalties imposed in recent HSE Act prosecutions. Where more than one fine has been imposed in relation to same prosecution, a cumulative figure is given. 17/10/07 Canam Construction Ltd Fine $6000 Working at height without fall protection. 12/12/07 Fisher and Paykel Appliances Ltd Fine $42,000, offer of amends $50,000 Worker fatally crushed in machine. 18/02/08 Chris Leonard Tyson Fine $4000 Cowperthwaite Ltd Fine $4500 Working at height without fall protection. 26/3/08 Roger Brian Lahood Fine $1500, reparations $3500 Uncovered join in stair carpet caused a fall. 11/04/08 Textile Bonding Ltd Fine $15,000, offer of amends $20,000 Hand crushed in mangle. 14/4/08 NZ Built Ltd Fine $40,000, offer of amends $25,000 Fall from height ­ multiple injuries. 19/5/08 Leon Russell Rawiri Fine $1500 As dogman incorrectly rigged a load which fell, injuring another worker.


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