Health and Safety Generalist Career Pathway

Health and Safety Generalist Career Pathway



Launching of the Health and Safety Generalist Career Guides

Representatives from HASANZ, NZISM, NZSC, Te Kawa Mataaho, WorkSafe and GHSL for the official launch. 

On Thursday 5 May 2022, Hon.Michael Wood, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety offically launched the Health and Safety Generalist Career Pathway. 

The Health and Safety Generalist Career Pathway took over a year to complete and was set up by the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ) in partnership with the Government Health and Safety Lead (GHSL), the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management (NZISM), the New Zealand Safety Council (NZSC), WorkSafe New Zealand and representatives from both public and private sectors.  

The career pathway is a ground breaking piece of work as it is the first of its kind for health and safety generalists (H&S) across the industry to use. 

It has been developed to support the industry to address the growing need to recruit more than 2,100 H&S professionals in New Zealand over the next ten years. The new guidance aims to:

  • Provide a helicopter view on what a H&S Generalist does, and what options are available along their career path
  • Clarify what good looks like across the different roles in the H&S Generalist Career Pathway
  • Provide a reference for current or future H&S Generalists, hiring managers and recruitment agents to understand what technical and non-technical skills are required to succeed in the industry.

As well as be able to provide clear and easily readable guidance to support organisations and recruiters to consistently match the right people to the right roles to fill their capability gaps in their organisations, support career development, and to promote others to take a second look at considering a role in health and safety.


In 2019, Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ) published a report ‘Building the Professions, Health and Safety Workforce Pipeline(external link)’.  This report identified that New Zealand over the next ten years will need to find an extra two thousand health and safety professionals, in a very difficult job market.

So, in 2021, the Government Health and Safety Lead (GHSL) and Van Schaik Health and Safety Solutions, started working on behalf of HASANZ(external link) to develop a common career development pathway for health and safety (H&S) generalists in New Zealand. This programme of work was supported by WorkSafe,(external link) New Zealand Institute of Safety Management(external link) (NZISM) and New Zealand Safety Council(external link) (NZSC).

The approach we adopted for this important piece of work included:

  • Extensive consultation and engagement with key sector stakeholders nationwide across both public and private sectors through workshops, meetings and consultation. Agencies such as LT McGuiness, Foodstuffs, Chorus, Air NZ, Warehouse and Fonterra participated, just to name a few
  • Gaining an understanding of the current H&S career development issues and challenges organisations are facing in recruitment.
  • Defining the current market problems.
  • Identifying, exploring, and confirming the core H&S generalist skills (technical skills and soft skills) required for career progression.
  • Completing a risk analysis to determine strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

The pathway uses the INSHPO capability framework as a foundation and takes into consideration common NZ health and safety job roles in both private and public sector as well as stand-alone advisers or HR professionals with health and safety responsibilities. By adopting a common career pathway this will bring consistency across the industry, particularly as New Zealand is compromised of small to medium sized businesses.

How can a career pathway help?

From the stakeholder feedback received across both public and private sector, they wanted to produce a career pathway which took the first step towards supporting a common and consistent career approach for the industry to address the growing recruitment need and requirements for H&S generalists. 

The pathway also, looks to address the changing value proposition for managing health and safety effectively. 

The role of the health and safety advisor or manager has changed significantly over the last few years which has meant that organisations and recruiters have been unclear about the skill sets, qualifications and competencies required to be successful for roles and the profession. Resulting in poor fit between the person and the job they have been recruited to do and placing both the organisation and individual at risk.

The pathway also creates an opportunity to attract and engage people who are interested in health and safety as a career, and help recruiters and and line managers to re-shape their conversations about the important role health and safety has within the workplace.

The pathway has resulted in three main guidance documents, including:

  • Health & Safety Generalist Pathway - An Overview of the Careers in New Zealand  
    This is an overview of the pathway, and supports people looking to start out, transfer to or expand an existing career in health and safety.

  • A Guide for Individuals
    This is to support and clarify what a health and safety generalist does, and the core skills and attributes needed for individuals to be successful. It also clarifies what good looks like across different roles.

  • A Guide for Recruiters and Managers 
    This supports line managers and hr professionals with health and safety responsibilities, or health and safety teams; as well as those responsible for recruiting health and safety roles into an organisation.