What do you need to know about the Health and Safety Reform Bill?

Every year in New Zealand, 10 per cent of workers are harmed, 75 people die at work and around 600-900 employees pass away due to work-related diseases, according to the government-backed website business.govt.nz

The New Zealand government recently passed the Health and Safety (H&S) Reform Bill, which aims to reduce the country's tragic workplace injury statistics.

Let's take a look at three key elements of the Health and Safety Reform Bill that you should be aware of:  

1. Greater WHS engagement across the company  

Under the new regulations, essentially everyone within an organisation has a role to play in ensuring conditions are safe.

Business.govt.nz explained that a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), for example, will need to take steps to maintain standards and operate within regulations. Company officers need to consistently check that the enterprise as a whole is meeting its work health and safety obligations. Workers, visitors and customers will also have to be more aware of complying with new WHS laws.

For more information on the definition of an 'officer' and their obligations with an organisation, you can register here for WorkPro's free Officer Due Diligence module.

High-risk businesses must appoint a WHS rep if requested.

2. Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) will replace the term 'employer'

In recognition of the fact that the traditional 'employer – employee' relationship is only one working arrangement, a PCBU, will replace the term 'employer'.

PCBU Responsibilities

When a PCBU engages a worker to perform work for their business, they have a 'primary duty of care' to that worker.

A PCBU is, so far as is reasonably practicable, responsible for ensuring work carried out does not carry risk to the health and safety of others. This means the PCBU must:

  • Provide and maintain a safe work environment
  • Provide and maintain safe plant and structures
  • Provide and maintain safe systems of work
  • Ensure the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances
  • Provide adequate facilities (and ensure access is maintained)
  • Provide instruction, training, information and supervision
  • Monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace

3. Change in classification of 'worker'

The term 'worker' will be introduced to replace the term 'employee'. This term more broadly represents modern working arrangements and covers workers, including:

  • Permanent employee
  • Contractor
  • Temporary worker
  • Sub-contractors
  • Labour hire worker
  • Students gaining work-experience
  • Apprentice

While the PCBU is responsible for a worker's health and safety as it relates to the workplace, every person has a responsibility for work safety.

Coming into effect on April 4, 2016, these new laws aim to reduce risks and ultimately provide safer workplaces for NZ workers. If you operate in Australia or NZ and want more information about how WorkPro can help you provide important safety induction and training, contact us for a demo now.

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