On 16 December 2013 WorkSafe New Zealand was launched with a focus on transforming New Zealand-wide attitudes and performance in workplace health and safety, utilising a collaborative approach backed with regulatory enforcement where required. Their mandate is to play a critical role in ensuring workers in New Zealand come home healthy and safe every day. This is not a simple task and it is not theirs alone. Every worker, every union, every health and safety advisor, every manager and every employer will have a role to play.
During 2014 the current legislation – the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 – will be replaced with an Act based on the Australian Model Law. To read more about the proposed changes at a glance check out: (http://www.mbie.govt.nz/pdf-library/what-we-do/workplace-health-and-safety-reform/summary-key-changes.pdf).
The changes will target:
- Increased clarity of duty holders and duties
- Coverage of alternative working relationships
- Positive duty on directors
- Controls to manage hazardous substances in the workplace
A suite of new compliance and enforcement tools, including stronger penalties, cost recovery mechanisms and court powers is also being introduced. The Minister of Justice is considering corporate manslaughter and the general corporate liability framework as part of this review.
December 2014 is the targeted date for the legislative change but during the year activities will include:
- Development of Safety Star programme which captures more than just management system effectiveness but injury rates to give an overall status of a business
- Updated codes of practice and guidance documents
- Assessment of Government agencies whose workplaces are high risk or have high hazards completed
Keep an eye on the http://www.business.govt.nz/worksafe website for updates on changes over the coming months.