Health and Safety at Work

NEW HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK ACT - APRIL 2016

NEW ACT – NEW ATTITUDE

As of 4 April 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and its supporting regulations come into being.

There is a far greater accountability on Directors, Business Owners and Senior Managers to ensure that safety practices are implemented and are being used. Even if you are a small business or administration based, you must comply with the Act and have a relevant health and safety plan.

Whilst some of the terms and obligations in the Act have changed, some of the intentions have not. It is all about what you can do to prevent people being injured. The Act works to focus effort on what matters, based on business risk, control and size:

·       The Act’s key emphasis is on everyone in the workplace being responsible for health and safety; everyone is equal; everyone has some responsibilities

·       Makes everyone’s responsibilities clear

·       Reinforces proportionality – what a business needs to do depends on its level of risk and what it can control

·       Introduces the “reasonably practicable” concept – focusing attention on what’s reasonable for a business to do

·       Changes the focus from the physical workplace to the conduct of work – what the business actually does and so what it can control

·       Requires us all to think broadly, not only about who is working but also about everyone who is affected by the work - not just employees, but contractors and others as well.

·       Focuses on risk management (the serious stuff)

·       Requires those who create the risk to control the risk

·       Requires a business to engage with workers and enable them to participate in an ongoing basis

·   Provides for flexibility for managing your own risks at your own workplace taking into consideration your own individual circumstances.

Under the Act you will need to be able to provide evidence that:

·        All staff have been trained for the work they do and the risks involved

·        Your equipment and work areas undergo regular checks and are safe

·        All staff are actively involved in Health and Safety matters

·        All staff have access to practical advice and information

·        You have safety plans in place to do the work safely

·        Any records of serious accidents, injuries and events are kept for 5 years

 

EVERYONE HAS A ROLE TO PLAY

BUSINESSES

PCBU – Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking – is a broad concept used to capture all types of modern working arrangements.

A business – whether commercial or non-commercial – is a PCBU.

Sole traders and self-employed are PCBUs.

The business has primary responsibility – a PCBU has a primary duty of care to ensure:

·       The health and safety of workers and any other workers you influence or direct – eg contractors, sub-contractors

·       The health and safety of other people at risk from any work you carry out – eg customers, visitors, public

 

BUSINESS LEADERS - Officers and the Duty of Due Diligence

An Officer is a person who holds a very senior leadership position, and has the ability to significantly influence the management of a Business or Undertaking.

Includes:

·       Directors of a company

·       Partners in a partnership-Board members

·       CEO

Officers must do due diligence to make sure the business is meeting its health and safety responsibilities – understanding and managing its key risks. They must:

·       keep an up-to-date knowledge of health and safety

·       understand the operations of their business

·       ensure and check that their business has appropriate resources and processes for health and safety.

 

WORKING WITH OTHER BUSINESSES

When more than one PCBU is involved in a project, responsibilities for health and safety overlap. The PCBUs must work together to ensure their work does not pose risks to people’s health and safety - they must consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities to meet their health and safety responsibilities to workers and others. 

·       Plan ahead, think about the stages of your work and who is affected by it

·       Identify the risks to be managed and together agree how to control the risks and who is best placed to do so

·       Define roles, responsibilities and actions and explain these to workers and other businesses so they know what to expect

·       Continue to consult, communicate, co-operate and co-ordinate including carrying out reasonable and proportionate monitoring to ensure health and safety is maintained

Businesses who are ‘upstream’ (eg architects, manufacturers, importers) must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the work they do or the things they provide to other workplaces don’t create health and safety risks.

 

WORKERS AND OTHERS

Businesses don’t exist in isolation – workers have responsibilities and rights to participate and be engaged in health and safety management. A worker is an individual who carries out work in any capacity for a business or undertaking, eg

·       Employees-Contractors/sub-contractors

·       Employees of labour hire companies

·       Apprentices or trainees

·       People doing work experience or work trial

·       Volunteer work

Others include:

·       Volunteers

·       Visitors to a workplace (eg courier drivers, clients, suppliers)

·       Customers

·       Any public who could come into contact with a business’ work activity

 

Workers and others

 must:

·       Take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others in the workplace

·       Follow any reasonable health and safety instructions given to them by the business

And, workers must co-operate with any reasonable business policy or procedure relating to health and safety in the workplace


WORKER ENGAGEMENT, PARTICIPATION AND REPRESENTATION

Any business can have a health & safety representative (HSR) or committee (HSC)

HSRs benefit business and workers by providing:

·       A clear, well known way for workers to raise issues and ideas

·       A voice for workers who might not otherwise speak up about health and safety matters

·       A link between workers and management

 

YOU NEED TO KNOW…

·       What the risks are from your work and in your workplace and manage them proportionately

·       That high risks must be managed comprehensively

·       The likelihood of those risks occurring

·       The degree of harm that might result from those risks

·       Options to eliminate the risks; if they can’t be eliminated, options to minimise the risks

 

Here are five things you can do now in readiness for the new Act:

·       Familiarise yourself with the key concepts of the legislation

·       Review your health and safety practices, policies and systems

·       Identify health and safety risks in your business and take steps to prevent these from causing harm

·       Make health and safety part of your workplace culture – integrate it into your workplace on a daily basis – “It’s just the way we do things here.”

 

It will no longer be good enough to say "we are doing things safely here" or “we don’t need all that stuff, we’ve never had an accident.” As Gordon Maclaughan, head of WorkSafe NZ said recently, “Do not think that because that machine has not caused an accident in 20 years, it is safe.”

 

For information about the specially designed wine industry health and safety management system, safetyWIRE, please contact Paddy Battersby 09 838 6338; paddy@battersbyhr.com 


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