Safety doesn’t happen by accident. As a business owner or director, you need to be deliberate to make sure everyone who comes to work goes home healthy and safe.

One of the best ways to do this is to put a Workplace Health and Safety Management System (WHSMS) in place in your business.

A WHSMS is not a bunch of paper, policies and procedures gathering dust on a shelf. Instead, it’s a unique set of activities, plans and policies – designed and implemented by you and your staff – that are integrated into your day-to-day to help make sure everyone goes home safe.

What every WHSMS has in common

While each WHSMS should be unique, they should include some common key attributes.

An effective WHSMS:

  • Manages risk appropriately.

  • Focuses on safe outcomes, not ticking boxes.

  • Ensures every action taken by the business leads to producing a safer and healthier workplace, either directly or indirectly.

  • Is continuously adapting and improving.

  • Involves every employee – everyone needs to have input, know their responsibilities, and know how to manage the risks they encounter.

  • Is integrated into the way you work.

It all comes down to great leadership

The first and most basic requirement for great WHS is great leadership – you need to have the desire to ensure your employees’ health and safety.

If you believe that WHS is only about ‘covering your backside’ from prosecution when something goes wrong, that’s a problem. You risk reinforcing a negative culture and preventing your business from gaining the true benefit of and opportunities from WHS.

Good WHS doesn’t happen by accident. Luck can’t be relied on to ensure the best outcomes – only deliberate management of WHS can.


For more information about workplace health and safety in New Zealand, visit worksafe.govt.nz/worksafe