As a result of the Pike River enquiry, the Health and Safety laws in New Zealand are changing substantially. The new laws come into effect on 4 April 2016.
As a business owner you have much greater responsibilities than previously. The penalties for non-compliance are substantial. However, with some understanding and work over the next few months everyone will be able to meet their obligations.
Hazards and Risks must be identified. A hazard is a situation that has the potential to cause physical or psychological harm. A Risk is the possibility that harm may occur when exposed to a hazard. The risk must be eliminated or minimised so far as “reasonably practicable”.
Clearly there are industries that have extremely high risks—forestry and construction, and those with less risk - “office work”.
A major change in the new law is the introduction of “Duty Holders”:
A ‘PCBU’ (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking)
An ‘Officer’ (Director, Partner, or person with significant influence over management of a business)
A ‘Worker’ (Employee, sub-contractor, student or volunteer)
As PCBUs your primary duties are the provision and maintenance of:
- a workplace that is without risk to health/safety
- safe plant and structures
- safe systems of work
- safe use, handling, storage of plant, substances and structures
- adequate facilities for welfare at work
- information, training, instruction, supervision necessary to protect all persons
- health and workplace conditions are monitored
As an Officer your primary duties are to take reasonable steps to:
- acquire knowledge of health/safety issues
- understand the business operations and associated hazards/risks
- provide appropriate resources and monitor
- create processes for receiving notification of incidents and for responding in timely fashion
- implement process for PCBU compliance
- verify provision/use of resources and processes
As a Worker your primary duties are to take reasonable care for:
- your own health/safety
- your acts/omissions so they do not adversely affect the health/safety of others
- complying with any reasonable instruction of PCBU
- co-operating with reasonable policies of PCBU
One important point is that you must be able to show you are compliant so document your policies and procedures. Also document any meeting or instructions you have.
Penalties have increased substantially so if you are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, the penalties are:
- PCBU—maximum $3 million
- Officer—maximum $600,000 and/or 5 years prison term
- Worker—maximum $300,000,and/or 5 years prison term
At Composite we are ensuring we engage with our staff to meet our obligations under the law.