As you might be aware, the Government is in the process of introducing new workplace health and safety legislation. The Health and Safety Reform Bill is currently before Select Committee, and is expected to become law in April 2015.
While that process is playing out, the Government has released a discussion document outlining proposals for the first tranche of regulations to accompany the new Act: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/about-us/consultation/development-of-regulations-to-support-the-new-health-and-safety-at-work-act
The proposals cover five key areas (listed below, along with an example of something proposed in that area to give an indication of what the regulations will be about):
- General risk and workplace management (example: whether the regulations should contain a prescribed risk management process that would be mandatory in specified high-risk situations)
- Worker participation, engagement and representation (example: imposing obligations on persons conducting a business or undertaking (basically everyone) to spend more on sending health and safety representatives on training courses and paying for their fees in doing so)
- Work involving asbestos (example: prohibiting all work activities involving asbestos unless those activities comply strictly with the regulations)
- Work involving hazardous substances (example: requiring an inventory of all hazardous substances used, handled, or stored in the workplace be prepared and maintained/introducing requirements for establishing health monitoring (to be paid for by the business) and storage of monitoring results); and
- Major hazard facilities (example: making it a mandatory requirement that operators notify WorkSafe NZ if hazardous substances are present or are likely to be present once a certain quantity/threshold is reached).
While it is the Act that will get all the attention, the regulations are key: they support and provide guidance on how best to comply with the Act. As a major example, the regulations will set out what responsibilities duty holders (basically everyone who has the ability to make decisions in a business) have, how they can comply with these duties, and whether they have done enough to comply with them. If something were to go wrong, this information will help WorkSafe NZ decide whether the Act has been breached and a prosecution commenced.
The areas listed above are likely to impact on your business. The regulations will have a significant impact on employers and this is a chance for you to have some input.
Submissions on the discussion document are due by Friday, 18 July 2014. Now is the time for you to submit feedback that could influence how the regulations are formulated (and thus how the regulations and the Act impact upon their business). We recommend that you consider making a submission. We are more than happy to assist with form and process.