Changing Attitudes to Health & Safety in NZ
Wayne Fisher – March 3, 2015
New Zealand has a pretty dreadful record for workplace accidents. In fact you are over 2.5 times more likely to die in a work place accident in this country than in Australia and, depending on which statistics you work with, between 6 and 9 times more likely than in the UK. On average, 75 people die in work related accidents in this country every year with some 6000+ serious harm injuries.
For a first world county, those are dreadful statistics and of which we should not be proud.
This is one of the reasons the government has been re-working our outdated Health & Safety laws with new legislation programmed to come into effect toward the end of 2015.
In simple terms, we must do better, we must have better processes and management tools to hand in order to minimise the risks and we must push safety in the workplace to the forefront.
No company officer wants to have to visit an employee’s family to explain why they were injured or even killed at their place of work. It just shouldn’t happen.
So what are they doing about it?
To begin, the government looked across the ditch and has based the draft legislation around the Australian Work, Health and Safety Act 2011. This seems a sensible approach given the closeness of the two countries and their similar approaches to business, work and industry.
Leading from that are key changes that include alterations to the lexicon such as a “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking” (PCBU). This role will encompass the existing duty holder responsibilities but will also have primary duty under the new law as they are in the best position to control risks. The other main terminology change is the introduction of the term ‘Worker’ who is defined as any person carrying out work for the PCBU, be they employee, contractor, sub-contractor, volunteers, apprentices etc. The definition is broad and will capture all PCBU and worker relationships.
In other areas the new act will see accountability levels pushed more squarely to Company Officer level.
This means the buck stops with them and they could be fined up to $3 million or imprisoned for up to 5 years for putting employees at risk without the appropriate training, safety gear, knowledge of hazards and for not carrying out proper risk assessments.
Increased accountability will no doubt drive a big upswing in Compliance Reporting and Risk Management around Health & Safety. Only in the implementation of best practice systems and processes can Company Officers be sure to mitigate their business exposure and by default, their own exposure.
This is where CS-VUE will continue to utilise its core strengths of following compliance based legislation by providing Risk Management Software that enables businesses to identify risks or hazards and provides a mechanism to eliminate or minimise that risk.
Over the past 10 years, CS-VUE has successfully helped organisations to manage their Enviornmental Compliance, in 2015 we are excited to apply the same rigour to the new Health and Safety legislation.