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Heads Up on Health & Safety

The new health and safety legislation has passed and we all need to start planning.

Your business needs to be compliant by 4 April 2016, when the new Health and Safety at Work Act takes effect, replacing the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

A lot of information is still to come on how the Act will operate. Regulations will be released to clarify how it will work for different industries. WorkSafe New Zealand will provide guidelines to businesses and workers.

The legislation has brought in new concepts of who is responsible, for what and where. You need to be aware of these to assess whether your health and safety systems are adequate or if they need a reboot for your business to be compliant.

What if I don't comply?

Non-compliance will be met with a range of new and existing enforcement tools and penalties, up to a maximum prison term of 5 years for reckless conduct relating to a health and safety duty by an individual or a $3m fine for reckless conduct by a body corporate such as a company. The focus on businesses will be intense.

What happens now?

We have to think broadly, not only about who is working but also about everyone who is affected by the work — not just employees, but contractors and others. There has been a lot of attention given to what are deemed high and low risk industries and what this means for businesses (we mentioned this in other articles on this site), but as yet practical guidelines are thin on the ground. We will keep you up to date.
The coming months will see a flood of guidelines and regulations. Take stock of your systems:
  • Do they ensure no one is put at risk by how you and your team work, in the places you work or with the equipment you use?
  • Are you producing goods or equipment that could put others at risk when they use them in their own work?
  • If so, what will minimise that risk?
  • Do you already use resources such as the guidelines available on the WorkSafe site? If not, are there some that could be useful to your business?
You will need systems to:
  • Ensure health and safety.
  • Train your team.
  • Document that your team understand your health and safety processes and policies and that they will use them.
  • Engage with your team on health and safety on an ongoing basis so they can participate in improving work health and safety.
There are resources available to help you, such as the ACC workplace safety programmes. In them you have access to great tools and people thoroughly versed in the new requirements. And they give you the opportunity to further reduce your levy costs! These and other resources are available. Keep in touch with us if you'd like to know more.