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CEOs committed to health and safety but challenges remain

Deloitte-Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum survey asks “are we as safe as we want to be?”

New Zealand business leaders show a strong commitment to health and safety but CEO confidence in the robustness of their health and safety systems may not always be supported by day-to-day practice within their organisations, according to a new survey by Deloitte and the Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum.

According to Deloitte Partner Rodger Murphy, New Zealand has undergone a huge transformation in workplace health and safety in the five years since the Pike River tragedy.

“We have a new regulator, new legislation, and interest in workplace health and safety has increased considerably, particularly among chief executives and directors,” says Mr Murphy.

“But how have these changes played out in the way health and safety operates in our organisations?”

The 2016 Health & Safety Leadership Survey aims to answer this question by providing a snapshot of how workplace health and safety is governed, managed and organised in New Zealand today.

“This is the first survey of its kind undertaken here and we believe the findings will be a valuable resource for directors, chief executives, health and safety practitioners and others in the health and safety environment, enabling organisations to compare themselves with their peers,” says Mr Murphy.

Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum Executive Director Francois Barton says overall the survey results are encouraging and provide a view of what good practice looks like.

“CEO commitment to, and board engagement with, health and safety is high.  Health and safety is seen as a priority by business leaders and there is a high level of confidence in systems to manage it.  And there is a willingness to invest in good practice and achieve further improvements,” says Mr Barton.

“However, there are some gaps between the commitment of our business leaders and the reality of health and safety practice on the ground.”

Report highlights include:

  • Board engagement with health and safety is high but board discussion appears to focus on incidents and risk management despite awareness that engaging workers is also important to improve health and safety performance.
  • There is confidence that health and safety risks are well managed but a third of respondents say that the risks in their business aren’t well described.
  • There is a considerable amount of reporting on health and safety but less than a third of respondents say they get useful analysis explaining what the data means and what its implications are.
  • Most CEOs are very confident about the health and safety capabilities of their people but there are low levels of specialist qualifications among senior health and safety managers.
  • Culture and worker participation are seen as key to improving health and safety performance but efforts to improve safety culture are patchy.

“Despite very encouraging pockets of excellence, there is also a hint of complacency in the survey results, suggesting that some businesses might not actually be as safe as their leaders believe them to be,” concludes Mr Murphy.

“This report provides some insights into areas where boards and CEOs might want to focus their attention in order to improve performance.”

The full survey report can be viewed or downloaded from here


Media Contact:

Alexandra Grace
Communications Manager
Deloitte New Zealand
04 470 3770

Frances Martin
Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum
Mob:   027 444 0088

About the Health & Safety Leadership Survey

The first annual Health & Safety Leadership Survey was completed by 133 CEOs in the third quarter of 2015. Nearly a third of the CEO respondents employ more than 500 people and operate throughout New Zealand and 40% have revenue of over $100 million.

About Deloitte in New Zealand

Deloitte New Zealand brings together more than 1000 specialist professionals providing audit, tax, technology and systems, strategy and performance improvement, risk management, corporate finance, business recovery, forensic and accounting services.  Our people are based in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, serving clients that range from New Zealand’s largest companies and public sector organisations to smaller businesses with ambition to grow.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries.  With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges.  Deloitte has in the region of 200,000 professionals, all committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

For more information about Deloitte in New Zealand, go to our website   

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.  Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and its member firms.

About the Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum

The Forum was set up in 2010 to motivate and support chief executives and managing directors to become more actively involved in improving health and safety in their workplaces and supply chains.  The Forum has more than 240 members, most of them large companies or companies working in high risk sectors. See

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