5 things you need to know about New Zealand’s new Workplace Health and Safety laws

Category: Health & Safety
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5 things you need to know about New Zealand’s new Workplace Health and Safety laws

It’s time! The new Health and Safety at Work Act has dropped this week in New Zealand. So we thought it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to give you the cliff-notes version:

Why were New Zealand’s new health and safety laws necessary?

The new laws came about due to degrading workplace injury stats. At the time they started being written, New Zealand was seeing 75 people die at work per year. A massive 10% of workers were harmed annually, and 600-900 workers a year were dying due to work-related incidents. The initial goals of these laws were to see a 25% drop in these figures by 2020.

Who do New Zealand’s new health and safety laws make responsible?

These laws target any ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’. So:

  • Company directors
  • Self-employed people
  • School Principals
  • Property Managers or Landlords

What do you need to know?

Without going into the individual laws, here are five things you need to know as a person conducting a business or undertaking (or PCBU for short):

  1. PCBUs now holds the primary duty of care for employees.
    Unless you’ve been actively NOT paying attention, you’ll probably know by now that PCBUs can now be held personally liable in the event of a workplace injury. Organizations can be fined up to NZ$3 million and individuals can receive up to 5 years of jail time and a $600k fine.
  2. “Primary Duty of Care” covers a broad range of issues.
    It requires that Employers and individuals are (as far as reasonably practical) responsible for:
    • Providing a safe work environment without risk to health, mental health, and safety.
    • Maintaining a safe plant, equipment, structures, and work systems.
    • Allow for safe use and storage of plant and substances.
    • Monitoring of the physical and mental health of workers.
    • Monitoring the conditions in the workplace to prevent injury or illness as a result of business activities.
    • Provide any and all training and information necessary to protect against workplace health incidents.
    • Providing facilities necessary for the wellbeing of staff… and you get the idea; a whole lot of stuff. To learn more, here is the legislation:
      Do you have to read all of this raw legislation to get informed? No. Read on:
  3. There’s a tonne of resources out there to help you be compliant within your industry:
    If reading raw legislation isn’t really your style, Worksafe New Zealand has set up a fantastic website to help you get informed. As well has to have really great resources for all businesses they’ve even set up specific pages for different industries. Go to http://www.business.govt.nz/worksafe/ for an overview or go here to see if there’s an industry-specific page for your business.
  4. There’s no grace period- It started on April 4th.
    As many of these legislations have been in the works for the past five years, it seems very likely that now that the April 4th launch date has passed, businesses will immediately need to be compliant.
    [Source: http://www.hrmonline.co.nz/news/preparing-for-the-new-health-and-safety-at-work-act-213490.aspx]
  5. There’s never been a more crucial time to build a safety culture in your business.
    Managing Workplace Health and Safety shouldn’t just be the responsibility of a few team leaders. In the end, if somebody is injured it has a ripple effect. It affects the worker, their family, their co-workers, and of course; the business. “Safety Culture” isn’t just a buzz-word. It means encouraging everybody to take control of safety. Whether it’s through training, reporting, or technology, if everybody is part of the project then you’ll have maximum visibility and a much better time.

Want to know more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch by posting a comment below. If you’d like to know more about technology solutions, make sure you visit donesafe.com to check out cloud based safety management solutions.

Keep safe.

By Christopher Notley-Smith at donesafe.com

For a paperless, jargon-free business safety solution that you can manage from your phone, click here to get in contact and ask about how you can try Donesafe for FREE or visit our features page to find out more.