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Occupational Health and Safety Management System Overview

University of Otago has a commitment to providing a safe and healthy working environment for all workers, students, contractors and visitors.

This commitment is enabled through the University's Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS).

The OHSMS refers to the structures, planning, procedures, activities and resources the University applies to the improvement and maintenance of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) performance and standards across the University. The University of Otago website and this OHSMS online manual are part of this system.

This guide provides a reference guide and outline to the OHSMS within the University of Otago and applies to all campuses and University of Otago controlled entities. It also documents the overview of the University of Otago’s specific OHSMS.

This guide applies a systematic approach to comply with the absolute duties and obligations found under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and amendments, other relevant Legislation, Regulations and Codes of Practice. The objective of the system is to create a positive culture within the University in relation to health and safety issues, promoting them as standard components of the University's management systems.

The adoption and implementation of a range of effective OHS management actions in a systematic manner can contribute to optimal outcomes for an organisation.

This University’s OHSMS is in accordance with AS/NZS 4801:2001 occupational health and safety management systems – specification with guidance for use and the ACC Partnership Programme compliance requirements.

AS/NZS 4801:2001 is a specification standard that establishes a framework primarily for enabling independent external audits and reviews of an organization’s OHSMS, but it can also be used as a framework for internal audits.

OHSMS Structure

Commitment/Policy: The Vice Chancellor authorises the health and safety policy as a demonstration of commitment to health and safety standards at the University of Otago. The responsibility for health and safety is delegated to a Senior Manager (Director, HR) with reporting procedures through the committee structure to Council.

OHSMS StructurePlanning: The successful implementation and operation of the University of Otago’s OHSMS, requires an effective planning process with well-defined and measurable outcomes. Planning is essential for both the initial implementation of an overall management system and for specific elements that make up the system. The planning process should address the regular identification of hazards and the assessment and control of risks associated with the activities of the organization as well as any related legal requirements.

Implementation: The University of Otago must establish, implement and maintain a risk management system so that all foreseeable hazards are identified, assessed and controlled. This includes the provisions for:
• Resources
• Responsibility, accountability and authority
• Competence, training and awareness
• Communication, participation and consultation
• Reporting
• Documentation

Measurement and evaluation: Measuring, monitoring and evaluating are key activities, which ensure that the organization is performing in accordance with its OHS policy, objectives and targets as well as initial and ongoing planning. In some instances inspection and testing are required by legislation. The results are analysed and used to determine areas of success and to identify activities requiring corrective action and improvement.

Management review: Management review is a cornerstone of the OHSMS, providing an opportunity for senior management to regularly review the operation of the system and its continuing suitability in the face of change and to make adjustments to build upon and improve its effectiveness.

Planning and development is based on the Maori Model of health, Te Pae Mahutonga, as the underlying framework to provide a holistic approach to health and safety. Te Pae Mahutonga when applied to health and safety, is a holistic model of health that embraces and enhances health and well-being inclusive of safety.

Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Otago



Te Pae Mahutonga, or the Southern Cross, is easily recognised in the Otago skies.  The constellation has four central stars arranged in a cross and two separate stars arranged in a straight line and has long been used as a navigational aid. Sir Mason Durie (1999) applied this constellation as a Maori model of health; Te Pae Mahutonga. The four cross stars represent the key tasks of Maori health:

  • Mauriora: cultural identity
  • Waiora: physical environment
  • Toiora: healthy lifestyles, and
  • Te Oranga: participation in society.

The two pointers represent:

  • Nga Manukura; leadership
  • Te Mana Whakahaere; autonomy and self-responsibility for health.

The University of Otago is a unique workplace community, and our charter and strategic deliverables are about people and achievements, striving for excellence in research and teaching. As a mature organisation, the University of Otago's health and safety systems aim to not only prevent harm, but to increase the health and well-being of workers by applying this model to our systems, policies and measures of health and safety performance.

The model is applied to OHSMS in more detail below:


For health and safety to be fully integrated into the business, everyone has to be involved and responsible for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues.  There needs to be a sense of ownership and control by an ability to freely participate in determining how health and safety is managed.  As individual capability levels grow, so will health and safety performance.
Health and Safety Te Mana Whakahaere looks like:

  • everyone takes responsibility for working in a safe manner and looking after their work colleagues
  • everyone is empowered to report health and safety improvements and know they will be listened to
  • everyone reports events – incidents, injury, illness and near misses
  • everyone is willing to be involved in audits, inspections and investigations
  • everyone knows where to get information and assistance with health and safety
  • a ‘no blame’ culture is described and there is no fear of reporting events


A mature safety culture that has strong leadership moves an organisation from a reactive and compliance driven focus health and safety system, to an enabling and continuous improvement culture. Nga Manukura, leadership, demonstrates commitment and support for providing a safe and healthy workplace. 
Health and Safety Nga Manukura looks like:

  • Management commitment to health and safety evident (budget, resources and time for health and safety).
  • Health and safety is treated seriously and is an agenda items at meetings.
  • There is a humanistic approach to health and safety – regard for individuals personal and work problems, direct and rapid action to identify and resolve individual problems in a caring and concerned manner.
  • Visible management – managers appear in the workplace and talk about health and safety.
  • Managers have an open door policy for reporting health and safety issues and concerns, and appropriate structures in place (committees, Departmental Health and Safety Officers (DHSOs), Managers who will take health and safety issues further as required).
  • There is a balance between production and health and safety goals – health and safety is not compromised and contributes positively to the running of the department/division.


The identity and culture of the University influences workers, students and the Dunedin community, including how the University values health and safety and demonstrates these values. 
Health and Safety Mauriora looks like:

  • A ‘people first’ University, providing a safe and healthy place of work that not only prevents harm, but increases health and well-being of workers, students and the community.
  • The University of Otago is leading the way in health and safety in the tertiary sector in NZ.
  • Health and safety at the University of Otago enhances and enables safe research and teaching, without stifling research and activities.
  • The University of Otago develops and supports health and safety capable workers, and students that are health and safety competent and work ready.


The University of Otago provides a safe environment for all workers, students and others on site and workplaces including those off campus. The work environment is free of contaminants and occupational health is proactive to prevent work related ill health.
Health and Safety Waiora looks like:

  • The environment is clean and free of contaminants.
  • Work tasks are designed for safety.
  • Activities are appropriately risk assessed to ensure a safe work environment.
  • Buildings are planned and designed with end user input to ensure they are fit for purpose.
  • Safety is monitored, audited and continuously improved.


The University of Otago encourages healthy lifestyles within the University Community – work is good for us, well-being and health improvement initiatives delivered through the workplace.

Health and Safety Toiora looks like:

  • Supporting workers with non-work related injury and/or illness to remain or return to work, as well as the ACC PP.
  • Providing a flexible work environment for workers to care for family and those that are important to them.
  • Health initiatives are available for workers.
  • Smoking cessation support is available and free to workers and students.


Community service and participation is requirement of the University charter, and our ‘Town and Gown’ relationship is pivotal. Producing health and safety conscious and competent graduates directly improves health and safety in New Zealand workplaces, and can become a competitive advantage with the current NZ health and safety changes. Our many contractors on site are safety conscious and benefit from working with us.
Health and Safety Te Oranga looks like:

  • University of Otago graduates are recognised as health and safety conscious and prepared.
  • The University of Otago is the leader in health and safety in the tertiary sector.
  • The University of Otago works in partnership with contractors to actively manage health and safety.
  • The community recognises the University as health and safety conscientious.

Example of the application of Te Pae Mahutonga in the health and safety context
Fieldwork Policy

Fieldwork Policy and Te Pae Mahutonga – growing a culture of care & respect
Te Pae MahutongaPolicy requirementsDemonstrated by
Te Mana Whakahaere
Autonomy and self-responsibility
Staff and students are provided with training and induction on hazards associated with the fieldwork.
Staff and students have a responsibility to look after self and others.
Behaviour on field trip.
All return safety with learning objectives met.
Nga Manukura
Health and safety Leadership
Fieldwork plans documented and authorised by HOD.
Activity Coordinator, Fieldwork Team Leader and Fieldwork assistants identified and trained to do the job.
Fieldwork leader demonstrates sound leadership in the field.
Positions in place.
Documented plan.
Success of fieldtrip.
Safe physical environment
Hazards and risks identified.
Controls in place are practical and suitable.
Training and equipment provided to manage risks.
No injuries on fieldtrips.
Controls complied with on field trip.
Positive health and safety culture
Documented plan.
Training and induction provided.
Staff and students aware of who to go to for assistance.
Safe and enjoyable field trip.
No incidents.
Time taken to ensure health and safety steps are in place.
Te Oranga
Participation in society
Safe field trips
Positive feedback from students to community
Increasing safe practices and individuals skills for future use
Research in the field is productive.
Minimised impact on environment from fieldtrips.
Safe and enjoyable field trips with learning outcomes achieved.
Research outcomes.
Healthy Lifestyles
Safe field trips – mentally, emotionally and physically.
Sense of achievement and well-being from activity.
Team work and being productive

Fieldtrips completed
Achievement of fieldwork goals
Sense of group and belonging
No incidents or harm
Enjoyable field trip.