UPfront: Safety first

Companies that employ dedicated safety managers tend to give them ranking up alongside that of marketing or production.

That’s one of the findings from survey carried out recently by the New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM).

More than half of the 71 respondents employ person whose only or primary role is health and safety coordination. Most of these employees (78 percent) have tertiary or other relevant qualification – either degree or specialist H&S diploma.

Qualification levels are not unexpectedly reflected in pay rates. Those with no qualification are on mean salary of $45,000 while those with both degree and relevant diploma can earn up to $60,000.

Salary levels provide some evidence of how the respondent companies regard safety, according to survey analyst Nigel McCarter.

“Either companies are rewarding persons to manage safety, or assigning the safety function reasonably high up the management chain.”

Median overall salary was $55,000 which places full-time safety managers on the same level as marketing and production management in medium-sized organisations. Almost 50 percent of these personnel report directly to the chief executive. Most of the rest (31 percent) come under the human resources umbrella.

Only few respondents admit to membership of any professional associations – of those six report membership of the NZIM and 10 are with the NZ Institute of Safety Management.

Part timers with major H&S role include auditors, production managers, environmental managers, scientists, quality or operations managers – even wine maker.

While the survey was designed to provide snapshot of how New Zealand companies organise safety management, it doesn’t pretend to provide true picture of New Zealand-wide safety practice because response was based on self-selection. Results are therefore likely to be skewed toward more safety-conscious companies.

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