New Health & Safety Legislation

New health and safety legislation comes into effect from 4 April, 2016 and it’s important that all employers are aware of the changes.

The new Health and Safety at Work Act was a result of the taskforce set up after the Pike River Coal tragedy. It’s the first rewrite of the health and safety legislation for a generation.

The Act covers all employers as a “person conducting a business or undertaking” and so a new abbreviation enters the lexicon – a PCBU.

A PCBU will hold the primary duty to ensure a safe workplace under law. Despite the use of the word “person”, a PCBU will normally be a company rather than an individual person. However, if you’re a sole trader or self-employed, you may very well be a PCBU.

Under the new law the duty holder will be required to manage risk. This obligation is limited to doing what is in their ability to control or manage along with what is reasonably practicable for them to do in order to manage such a risk. Bear in mind the responsibility will extend to people other than employees who visit your workplace. If you breach that duty in any way or someone is injured you could be liable.

The new Act has a provision for serious offences. In the event of a person or a corporate entity being held accountable for reckless conduct a person could face imprisonment for up to 5 years and a corporation could face a fine of up to $3 million.

High risk business will have to have a health and safety representative if an employee requests one. New regulations will determine what industries constitute a high risk business.

In lower risk businesses there is a requirement to have some other form of worker participation and engagement process.

We believe this is a good time to review your health and safety practices and behaviours and revise how you will deal with any risks that might result in illness, injury or even death.

Worksafe New Zealand is the government agency charged with overseeing the introduction of the new Act. You can see much more information on the Health and Safety at Work Act on their website here.

Ensure that you are up to speed with updates on the implementation of the new legislation by clicking on the link here.