The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is seeking submissions on the first phase of proposals about the development of regulations to support the proposed Health and Safety at Work Act. Submissions are due by Friday 18 July 2014. The proposals are contained in a discussion document, which sets out the five specific areas of work-related regulations intended to be brought into force at the same time as the new Act. The Government’s current intention is for the new Act to be in force by 1 April 2015.
The proposed regulations are based on a mixture of existing regulations and Australian regulations supporting the Australian Model Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The five specific areas are as follows:
- General risk and workplace management
This proposed regulation is intended to be based on a mixture of the Australian model regulations and the relevant existing requirements in the HSE Regulations 1995. For example, the new regulation is proposed to introduce a prescribed risk management process which is mandatory in specified high-risk situations or activities, and clarify what adequate provision of information, training, instruction and supervision means.
- Worker participation, engagement and representation
This proposed regulation is intended to set out the process regarding matters such as: the election, term and training of health and safety representatives; the establishment and operation of “work groups” that each health and safety representative will represent; and the membership and operation of health and safety committees.
- Work involving asbestos
The object of the proposed regulation is to prescribe mandatory processes and standards to deal with the volume and types of asbestos present in workplaces. The new regulation proposes a shift from the emphasis in the current regulations (HSE (Asbestos) Regulations 1998) to encourage the identification of asbestos in workplaces in advance, adopting internationally accepted workplace exposure standards and controls on work practices, and replacing the current system of certificates of competence for individual asbestos removalists with a more comprehensive licensing scheme that is consistent with Australian states.
- Work involving hazardous substances
This proposed regulation is intended to be based on the Australian model regulations and existing Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) regulations. This is intended to align the HSE regime with the HSNO regime, where relevant to workplace health and safety. Features of the proposed new regulation include introducing a requirement to ensure that an inventory of all hazardous substances used, handled or stored in the workplace is prepared and maintained at the workplace, and specifying considerations that should be taken into account when managing the risks to health and safety associated with using, handling, generating or storing hazardous substances at the workplace.
- Major hazard facilities
This new regulation is intended to be based on the Australian model regulations, and is proposed to, for example, introduce a requirement for WorkSafe to designate a facility to be a “major hazard facility” if certain specified hazardous substances are present. It is proposed that the new regulations would not apply to an installation to which the current HSE (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 2013 apply, a mine to which the current HSE (Mining Operations) Regulations 2013 apply, and a pipeline to which current HSE (Pipelines) Regulations 1999 apply.
The second phase of regulations to be developed is intended to be in place within two years of the proposed new Act coming into force. Based on the Government’s current intention for the Act to come into force in 2015, that would mean the regulations would come into place in April 2017. Phase two is intended to replace the following regulations:
HSE Regulations 1995;
HSE (Pressure Equipment, Cranes and Passenger Ropeways) Regulations 1999;
HSE (Pipelines) Regulations 1999;
Amusement Devices Regulations 1978; and
Geothermal Energy Regulations 1961.
The full discussion document can be accessed here.
The new Health and Safety at Work Act will be created by the passage of the Health and Safety Reform Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on 10 March 2014. The Bill is currently before the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee, which has received written and oral submissions. Submissions to the committee were due by 9 May 2014, and the committee is expected to report back to Parliament on 13 September 2014.