Health and Safety Reform Bill

Changes to the Health and Safety law are expected to be passed later this year - although it will be some months before changes come into effect, so you will have time to prepare.

Changes to the Health and Safety law are expected to be passed later this year - although it will be some months before changes come into effect, so you will have time to prepare.

The changes, which aim to reduce the number of people killed or hurt at work by 25 per cent by 2020, were sparked by the 2010 Pike River mine disaster, which killed 29 miners.

hasAccording to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, an average of 73 people die on the job in New Zealand every year, and 600-900 die from work-related diseases—all coming at a cost of $3.5 billion per year.

However, the word from the Ministry is not to expect significant compliance cost increases.  Little is expected to change for many small businesses, especially if you have a responsible approach towards keeping your workplace safe and healthy.

With the knowledge that changes are coming, now is a good opportunity to review how you manage any critical risks – those that could cause illness or injury serious enough to keep someone off work.

According to MBIE, the new law says you need to take reasonably practical steps to manage these risks. How you do this will depend on:

 

    • how seriously someone could get hurt (paper cuts are not serious injuries!)

 

    • the chance of an accident happening

 

    • and how much control you have over preventing it.



There’s a lot of information out there for employers wanting to school up on the Health and Safety Reform Bill - and you can read all about the key changes here.  Small businesses should check out the ACC website for tips and resources on health and safety in the workplace, including how to get an ACC Levy Discount.

Industry-specific resources are also available for a raft of businesses including forestry, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, road freight transport and more.

If your business needs a little extra help with health and safety, hiring a specialist advisor can make a difference, particularly if the risks you need to manage are detailed and technical.

But how to choose the right person for the job? The Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ) has put together a checklist of five questions to ask potential advisors:

(1) Which professional association do you belong to?

(2) What qualifications and/or certification do you have? — Ask to see a current practising certificate from the relevant association, or similar proof of competence.

(3) What relevant skills and experience do you have for this job? — If your business deals with hazardous substances, for example, you’ll need an advisor skilled in this area.

(4) Can you give me examples of similar work you have done recently?

(5) May I contact your clients to ask about your work for them?

For tips on how to delve deeper into a potential advisor’s answers, see HASANZ’s Guide to choosing a workplace H&S advisor.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the imminent changes might affect your business, please contact us, we’re happy to help.