What makes a good health and safety leader? | IMPAC health and safety

23 July, 2018  |  News

Nicole Rosie, WorkSafe chief executive, spoke about leadership and behaviour at the Safeguard conference.

Rosie’s presentation delivered a ‘practise what you preach’ message: “Leadership is all about behaviour, not intent. You might intend to be a good health and safety leader, but the only thing people see is your behaviour – what you focus on, what you talk about, and what you do, day to day.”


nicole rosieNicole Rosie speaking at the 2018 Safeguard conference in Auckland. Photo from Facebook.com/SafeguardMagazine.


Foundations of good leadership

She outlined WorkSafe’s three key elements that make up health and safety in New Zealand: leadership, risk management, and employee engagement.

Rosie said that the first challenge effective leaders often face is to move away from traditional rules-based systems and engage with workers.

 “Good leaders establish low-hierarchy, high-engagement cultures where all parties are treated as equals. Everybody has a voice and is listened to.” She went on to caution that within this environment, leaders must focus on critical risks and catastrophic risks.

“When you’re dealing with these sorts of risks, your history of incidents and accidents has zero predictive value for future events. You need to manage them differently – and catastrophic harm is what destroys companies, so it’s an area to be very aware of.”


The key lies in engagement

Rosie concluded by sharing with conference-goers that at the heart of the whole system is good employee engagement: “All is lost if the people exposed to the risk are not involved in owning and managing it. If they don’t feel like they can control their work environment, it’s a complete waste of time.”

She said trust lies at the heart of good engagement and is established when workers feel cared for: “Care will look different in different situations but involves things like doing what you say you will and understanding what it’s like for the guys on the ground. You need to stand in the shoes of the people you want to receive your message.”



Leadership, risk management, and employee engagement are the three audit areas of SafePlus, WorkSafe’s new health and safety performance improvement toolkit.

We have SafePlus assessors who have been qualified by WorkSafe and are accredited to carry out SafePlus assessments. You’ll know how well your business is performing against the SafePlus criteria and we’ll provide tailored recommendations on how you can improve.

Keen to know more? Call our team on 0800 246 722 (option 1) to see if SafePlus is the toolkit you need.