Health & Safety REForms T
he Health and Safety Reform Bill represents a major change to New Zealand’s health and safety system. The new legislation is expected to come into effect early April 2016 and there are a number of key changes that all businesses and employers should be aware of:
Worker Engagement and Participation Everyone in the workforce is responsible for health and safety. Therefore, workers can, and should, intervene when they see a situation which is unsafe.
Health and Safety Representatives – Health and safety representatives will have the power to order work to stop if there is a safety risk. For low-risk industries, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be exempt from having a health and
safety representative (even if workers request one). However, higher-risk businesses will not be exempt even if they have fewer than 20 employees!
Workplace The new legislation will define a workplace as: A place where work is carried out for a business or undertaking. It includes any place where a worker goes or is likely to be while at work. This will include vehicles! Also, business owners will be liable for the actions of anyone working on their premises including employees, contractors and also tradespeople working on the premises.
Duties of Workers While at work employees are required to take reasonable
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care of their own health and safety and ensure their actions do not impact on their fellow workers’ wellbeing. If an accident should occur, and it can be proved that the employee was at fault, then the employee will be liable for the fine – not the business owner. In summary, the proposed changes could have a significant impact on SME’s who in the past may have found these issues easier to ignore. And the fines and penalties for non-compliance will be far harsher – not just when accidents occur but whenever unsafe work practices are observed. Campbell Tyson Chartered Accountants plan to run a seminar closer to the introduction of the legislation to provide more information. In the meantime, if you have queries please contact them on (09) 238 9219.
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