Health and Safety measures must be stringent

Editorial One

Issue 387 March 1, 2018

“We know the future, it’s both challenging and opportune,” wrote Dawn Emling, Global Head of ESG Institute (VP), Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion at Thomson Reuters in a recent issue of The Economist.

“On the one hand, we face an increase in natural-resource constraints, political polarisation and demographic instability. On the other hand, the atmosphere is warming, and sea levels are rising. By this measure, the outlook ahead appears pretty grim.”

Some programme presenters in mainstream Radio in New Zealand tend to downplay Climate Change and Global Warming as hogwash and even as conspiratorial.

But undertakings of the private sector are increasingly recognising that global threats are critical to business success.

As Ms Emling said, solving these problems is good business. Solving them well is better business. In fact, companies that manage their environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are better able to manage risk, are quicker to identify opportunities and are outperforming their peers, she said.

Our poor record

Related to ESG are health and safety, over which New Zealand has a poor record.

The Pike River Mine Disaster, which killed 29 workers and contractors caused by a methane explosion on November 19, 2010 accentuated the phase of legislation.

Parliament passed into Law the ‘Health and Safety at Work 2015 Act,’ which came into effect on September 4, 2015.

It aims to provide for a balanced framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces by (a) protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety, and welfare by eliminating or minimising risks arising from work or from prescribed high-risk plant (b) providing for fair and effective workplace representation, consultation, cooperation, and resolution of issues in relation to work health and safety (c) encouraging unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in promoting improvements in work health and safety practices, and assisting PCBUs and workers to achieve a healthier and safer working environment (d) promoting the provision of advice, information, education, and training in relation to work health and safety (e) securing compliance with this Act through effective and appropriate compliance and enforcement measures (f) ensuring appropriate scrutiny and review of actions taken by persons performing functions or exercising powers under this Act (g) providing a framework for continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety.

Measuring Performance

Ms Emling said that a necessary first step is the measurement and management of a company’s own operational footprint. Environmental impact relates to various uses of natural resources, such as carbon, waste, water and plastics in direct operations. Are these being measured? Are efforts being taken to reduce waste?

Implementing comprehensive awareness and behavioural change across an organisation requires extensive planning and execution.

New Zealand companies should consider health and safety as critical and take appropriate steps to improve their record.

Our Award

Recognising the importance of the issue, we have launched a new category – Business Excellence in Health Safety as a part of the Eleventh Annual Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards this year.

We hope that companies run by people of Indian origin will evince interest.

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