Workplace Health & Safety

compliance for businesses

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

We're now all operating under the new Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).

Since April 4th 2016 the old Act (Health & Safety in Employment 1992) is out and the new HSWA is in.

WorkSafe NZ was formed in 2013 following the Pike River mining disaster. It is the Government empowered dedicated taskforce to spearhead Health & Safety compliance and enforcement. WorkSafe NZ has the target of a 25% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries by 2020.

Some new terms:
PCBU - (person conducting a business or undertaking) is a key new term – the PCBU has the 'primary duty of care' to ensure the safety of workers and anyone affected by its work. Usually a PCBU is the company.

- the Act places more legal responsibility on directors and executives of a PCBU to manage risks and keep people safe.

WORKER PARTICIPATION - a stronger emphasis on worker participation and engagement to ensure that workers are active with health and safety.

SAFETY IS EVERYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY - no one can 'opt out' and safety becomes everyone's responsibility. All parties from executives to workers have health and safety responsibilities.

RISK MANAGEMENT - shifts the focus from hazard identification and control to proactively identifying and managing risks. The term 'All practicable steps' has become 'Reasonably practicable steps'. The recognised way of controlling hazards has also changed. Rather than the traditional eliminate, isolate, minimise we now have a spectrum of control methods available to manage the risk from either being eliminated or minimised. Isolation is only a method of minimisation.

The phrase 'all reasonable' steps is just that.  Feasible steps taken to achieve a result in the circumstances, having regard to the nature and severity of potential harm; the current state of knowledge about the likelihood of harm; the availability and cost of each of those means. A person is required to take those steps in respect of circumstances they know about or could reasonably be expected to know about.

STRONGER FINES AND PENALTIES - HSWA significantly increases the category of offences, with a three-tiered hierarchy being introduced along with a range of other offending provisions.
1. Non-compliance
2. Non-compliance high risk
3. Reckless – high risk (max 5 years custodial sentence)

What was 'Serious Harm' incidents requiring to be reported to OSH is now widened to 'Notifiable Events' and must be reported to WorkSafe NZ.
An uncontrolled incident which did or could have presented serious risk to someone;
  • An injury including death, illness or any injury which either requires treatment other than just first aid or medical treatment within 48 hours of the incident;
  • Uncontrolled spillages, fires, explosions, gas escape or leakage and any uncontrolled falling of anything from height;
  • Electrical shock

If in doubt; report it to WorkSafe NZ 0800 030 040

Through Employers Assistance you have available a very experienced Health & Safety team. You can involve us to whatever extent you require with getting systems in place. Hazard identification, hazard management plans, training staff in what they need to know and do, training your safety officer and on-going support. Alternatively we can provide you with the tools to do it all yourself.

The variety of options regarding installing and implementing the systems of compliance & Health & Safety make them affordable and they can be completed at the convenience of the business, thus saving money and time.

Employers Assistance Ltd's Health and Safety Online management system provides the framework for companies to manage and monitor their workplace health and safety requirements.