Safety cultures needed to save lives

Thursday, 21 August, 2008

New Zealand business leaders have been urged to show the way in encouraging a safety culture within workplaces, during discussions at the Leaders in Health and Safety Summit held in Wellington this week.

Backed by the Department of Labour, the summit was attended by more than 120 senior executives and health and safety managers.

David Tregoweth, Department of Labour chief adviser on workplace health and safety, said developing a safety culture was vital for a business to maintain productivity.

"Safety and productivity are the result of good management and good leadership. Safety is not a trade-off for productivity. The two go hand in hand," he said.

A positive safety culture could ultimately help reduce workplace injuries and save lives, Tregoweth said.

"For all that to happen, we need great leadership. Good practices come from the top down. This summit is about supporting businesses and encouraging that leadership to come from within industry.

"After all, good health and safety is simply good business."

Keynote speaker Prof Andrew Hopkins from the Australian National University, a safety culture expert, said good safety culture placed an overriding priority on safety and ensured that safety issues received the attention they deserved.

According to Hopkins, 'cultures of denial' prevented organisations from picking up the warning signs that were always present before accidents.

"Such cultures must be overcome if organisations were to become truly 'mindful'."


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