Lip service to health and safety no longer an option

Changes coming to New Zealand’s health and safety compliance rules could see fines of up to $3 milllion imposed on offending businesses. This is an issue that cannot be ignored.  We encourage all businesses to seriously review your health and safety regime now.

Compliance issues are undergoing very rapid changes, driven by the Pike River tragedy and the reports from the subsequent Royal Commission and the Government-appointed independent task force into health and safety.  Their findings identified that:

  • New Zealand’s workplace safety record is eight times worse than in the UK
  • Our results are worse than Australia
  • This country is the worst of all OECD-aligned nations
  • The cost to the economy of workplace accidents and deaths is between nine and twelve-plus billion dollars per annum.

To reduce this, the Government has now drawn a line in the sand and set a goal to reduce the number of serious harm accidents and workplace fatalities by 25 percent by 2020.

To achieve this:

  • A new standalone Crown Agent called Worksafe NZ has been established and will be in operation by December 2013, depending on passage of the legislation through Parliament.  Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) workplace health and safety functions and staff will transfer to the agency on establishment
  • A set of guidelines for directors and business owners for the governance and management of health and safety has been developed and is available through the MBIE (OSH) website: www.business.govt.nz/healthandsafetygroup
  • Alternatively, check out the NZ Institute of Directors’ publication on its website: www.iod.org.nz/publications/healthandsafety.aspx
  • The number of health and safety inspectors is being increased substantially
  • A team of 45 accident investigators is being formed for investigating serious harm accidents.  All future accident investigations will be focused on compliance with the Health and Safety in Employment Act (HSE), and the availability of evidence to prove due diligence
  • The introduction of corporate manslaughter is under consideration.

To ignore health and safety as a governance and a business responsibility will no longer be an option. Nor will paying lip service be sufficient protection.

If you require more information, please contact us.

Published Spring 2013.

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