Health and Safety

Our commitment

Health, safety and wellbeing is deeply embedded into the culture at Contact and it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to continually improving the way we work.

We believe safe and healthy ways of working come from work that is well thought out, designed, planned, and thoroughly risk assessed by passionate, well trained, and competent people. 

We make sure our people have the right tools and resources at their fingertips, through our dedicated safety website, This gives everyone who does work at Contact – whether our own people or our contract partners – quick and easy access to practical information to help them create successful work outcomes which includes safety. 

Safe practices = safe people

Ngā Kawenga Whakaruruhau ō Contact (our Health and Safety Management System Commitments and our Health and Safety Policy) applies across all our activities and describes how we protect our people, our business partners, and our communities.  Our subsidiaries maintain their own Health and Safety management systems, specific to their own scopes of work. 

We operate a no-blame just culture, where our people are encouraged to pause and if necessary, stop a job at any time to raise concerns. 

Contractors are considered members of our team, and as such we expect them to demonstrate the same strong commitment to health and safety as we do. We assess this through our procurement processes and ongoing contractor management processes. 

Caring for our people’s health over the long term

We work in some challenging environments which can present long-term health risks for our people if not well managed. 

We manage these risks by:

  • ensuring our people are well-educated about the nature of the work, the hazards they will face and how we mitigate the potential impact of those hazards
  • providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriate to the task
  • monitoring potentially hazardous environments for any changes which could impact our people
  • proactively monitoring lung function and hearing for team members based on their role
  • registering people who may have been exposed to asbestos in the past with NZ Provide – an asbestos health monitoring programme.

We recognise the risk of skin cancer for all New Zealanders, and all Contact team members have access to free skin health checks and ongoing skin health education.  This initiative has quite literally saved lives, with team members having early-stage melanomas detected and safely removed as a result.  We have identified numerous other non-melanoma skin cancers and supported people through their diagnosis, treatment and recovery. 

A learning approach, by the people for the people

The people who do the work are deeply involved in designing how they work, including developing guidelines and procedures to capture how we do our work successfully and safely. 

We use Bowtie risk assessment methodology to help understand how to mitigate risks and develop robust emergency responses to potential events. We put in place prioritised action plans that address risks through the implementation of effective controls. Our people and leaders play a key role in verifying the identified controls are working. We regularly review our risks to make sure that we are focusing on the right things and addressing any emergent risks. To do this, we establish prioritised action plans that address risks through the implementation of controls.

We are a learning organisation, learning not just from when things go wrong but by also seeking to understand why normal work is successful most of the time. We believe if we can learn from what makes us successful, and strengthen these areas even more, it will lead to fewer incidents.

Our tools include:

Our people are our best source of insight, and we have both formal and informal ways of engaging with them and making sure we all know how work gets done safely and successfully:

  • daily toolbox meetings
  • safety culture maturity, wellbeing and engagement surveys
  • observation cards
  • workshops
  • focus groups
  • small experiments
  • Health, Safety & Wellbeing committees
  • inspections & audits
  • leadership site visits 
  • one on ones

In addition, each Contact site has a Health and Safety committee, with diverse members from frontline to managers. These committees have their own budgets and charters, and through regular meetings gather insights and set expectations for the site. 

We use the insights from all these channels to identify improvement opportunities and allocate resources to priority areas. These insights help us put in place relevant training, development, and learning opportunities to ensure our people are knowledgeable in all aspects of occupational health and safety. Initiatives include communications campaigns on key topics, learning seminars, and online learning via Contact University which is available to all our team members.  

Our investment in role-specific health and safety training – from first aid, to confined space entry, and hazardous substance handling, together with ongoing mentoring – ensures work is carried out safely. 

When incidents do occur, our learning team approach brings together the teams involved with minimal management presence. Through expert facilitation, timelines are established, stories are told, and everyone involved gets the opportunity to contribute. We look at the hierarchy of controls to ensure actions are focused on being able to engineer, isolate, substitute or eliminate hazards rather than relying on administrative controls.

A great demonstration of our people-led approach is the Get Home Safe app.

Ken Middleton works in remote areas around our Clyde hydro plant. As a lone worker he found the system for checking on him and his colleagues was manual, unreliable and occasionally error prone – Ken thought there had to be a better way.  After doing some research in his own time, he found a local company who had developed an app for this exact purpose. He shared it with his health and safety committee and a successful pilot quickly followed in 2022. Now, Get Home Safe has been rolled out to all lone workers across Contact.


A strategic focus on making life easier for our people

Each year we set strategic Health and Safety goals and design initiatives to achieve them. We’re focused on continuously improving the systems and regularly evaluate our progress in alleviating risks against our targets that support and enable work so that we can make work life easier for our people. 

In 2023 we kicked off a three-year safety citizenship and leadership programme with all team members and leaders in our generation and trading teams. The programme is focused on helping our people understand how their attitude towards safety and the resultant behaviours influence safety outcomes at Contact, and it has had very positive Feedback with over 90% of participants able to immediately apply their learnings in their workplace.

New ways to measure our performance

We always seek to reduce the possibility of incidents occurring and we always look to learn from these incidents. We acknowledge that traditional lagging safety metrics measure “unsafety” or “things that have gone wrong”. Lead indicators tend to count the number of positive things we have done like audits or observation cards but do not always give great insight into what makes our work successful and safe. We are establishing new ways of measuring health and safety performance, to offer predictive insight into what makes us successful and safe in our work. These metrics include: 

  • people data such as the ratio of experienced to inexperienced workers
  • process safety data like the ratio of proactive to reactive maintenance 
  • efficiency data like how long it takes to put a change request through the change management process. 

Once we have discovered our own unique set of performance metrics, we will gain enhanced visibility of what makes us successful, and we can trend the metrics to make sure we aren’t unknowingly eroding what keeps us safe, allowing us to reallocate resources where we spot trouble ahead. 

We track traditional lag and lead indicators including Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) and Total Injury Severity Rate (TISR) and we have a set of corporate targets to measure safety performance. 

To see health and safety performance over the years, see our ESG Reporting page.

An ecosystem of health and safety partners

Several specialist partners offer services to our people: 

  • Clearhead (Employee Assistance Programme)
  • NZ Provide (asbestos health monitoring for anyone who may have had past exposure). 
  • Proactive (medicals and occupational health)
  • Skin Aware (skin cancer checks)
  • Southern Cross (health insurance)

Team members gain access to these services through our intranet, and we highlight their availability through our regular internal communications channels.

In 2023 we introduced the StayLive Electricity Industry Competency Tool (card & App) to manage the training and competency credentials for team members in generation and trading, and relevant contractors providing services to us.

Beyond our own sites, we believe we have an important role to play in making improvements in health and safety across our industry. As such we’re proud members of groups such as

  • StayLive (electricity industry body)
  • NZ Institute of Safety Management

We have 2 committee members on the Electricity Generation H&S Group StayLive. The group collaborates and shares learnings to drive material and sustainable improvement in health, safety and wellbeing in the electricity generation industry.

Contact’s health and safety system has been internally audited according to ISO 45001. No external audit has been performed. 

Public Safety Management System certification

We operate a Public Safety Management System as required by the Electricity Act 1992 and are compliant with NZS7901:2014 Electricity and Gas Industries – Safety Management Systems for Public Safety.