NZIM: Health and Safety – Leading the Way – A healthy interest in NZIM Diploma

Irrespective of their company’s size, employers today are accountable for the health and safety of their employees. They have ‘duty of care’ to organise, manage and protect employees. There are also compelling legal, moral and best business practice reasons why organisational safety and health (OSH) is serious management issue.
It is now entirely reasonable for organisational stakeholders to ask: “If you can’t manage health and safety what are you doing with the rest of the business under your responsibility?” Yet the responsibility for OSH is often delegated to an individual who needs to be coordinator, adviser and expert resource, even though the management of health and safety is directly accountable and legal senior management responsibility.
Technological and competitive market pressures are together rapidly changing organisations, employer attitudes, working conditions and work processes. Existing safety legislation and compliance is, on its own, insufficient to address all these changes and the challenges they present. In short, it is difficult to keep up with the constantly evolving array of new hazards and risks.
Organisations simply need to adopt ‘realistic’ health and safety management system that provides processes to manage the changes. Safe work methods, safe conditions and safe work environment need to be seen and understood by management as positive factors that contribute both to productivity and economic growth.
There are two key focus points for successfully managing health and safety:
• a health and safety management programme that involves everyone in the organisation in developing, coordinating and monitoring health and safety. This programme needs to embrace values and processes relevant and suitable for the organisation.
• Suitable training for key people able to lead, administer and review the programme, ensuring that it meets legislative requirements and remains relevant and valued.
A review of the occupational health and safety training courses provided in New Zealand, Australia, England and three Asian countries shows that while there are many courses available, none undertake the unique functions and innovative learning processes of the New Zealand Institute of Management (NZQA level 6) Diploma in Health and Safety Management to address these two key focus points.
The NZIM diploma has been developed to provide options to the employer organisation and the health and safety professional to achieve both of the above, in other words, both the programme and the training. The safety professional receives respected qualification through the training component while the employer (sponsoring organisation) gets the payback of comprehensive health and safety management system that exactly meets the needs and responsibilities of the organisation.
In my opinion the NZIM Diploma in Health and Safety Management is unique in its learning style and advanced in its assignments and assessments. This is why we are getting more participants taking part in the programme here in New Zealand, and why we are also getting interest from countries that we have shown the programme to.
The diploma qualification requires participants to complete major project in which they analyse the needs of their organisation and introduce suitable health and safety programme to address those needs. The project shows that they have practical safety management knowledge base together with the process applications to help them implement and manage health and safety process.
When an employer asks for health and safety qualification, an NZIM diploma graduate can show both their diploma and their project report. The latter is very compelling document and clear evidence of understanding and practical application.
University diploma and post-graduate qualifications usually focus on the issues from theoretical perspective. They consider health and safety specifics, legislation, the need for appropriate processes and other matters that are often not directly concerned with the real at-work, day-to-day practice of health and safety management.
By contrast this course is very practical. Participants produce accident assessments, real company audits and major project that is signed off by their sponsoring organisation. 14-day intensive seminar programme ensures that the knowledge and skills relating to occupational safety and health are clearly embedded in their practical applications.
Managing health and safety in today’s real world is vastly different from historical health and safety processes and the ‘one size fits all’ safety courses of the past. Safety management is no longer about remembering dates, the history and evolution of workplace safety, or studying ‘filler’ subjects that participants won’t use. Safety now is about knowing where to look for solutions, network resourcing and how to research information to meet current health and safety challenges.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce recently conducted survey of hundreds of employers and found eight key attributes they seek in their employees. They want teamwork, problem solving, self management, planning, organising, self learning, initiative and process application. These attributes are all linked to the diploma learning and are measured in the practical project.
And while ostensibly this qualification has been developed for the New Zealand market, because it is based on universal principles and concerns the world at large is expressing interest in what we have done and how it might be adopted and adapted for use in their home markets.
NZIM should be applauded for its vision in developing diploma that could some day be exported to markets that understand the importance and payback that comes from taking care of your people.

Gavin Johnson is the director of the NZIM Health and Safety Diploma. For more details go to www.nzim.co.nz

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