Later this year, New Zealand's government will introduce new regulations into its workplace health and safety legislation. The reforms currently under discussion aim to decrease the number of injuries and deaths at work sites by a quarter over the next five years and create a more modern standard and best practice. 

Organisations will need to make adjustments to how they approach and train for occupational health and safety, but the new requirements also provide a valuable opportunity for firms to re-evaluate their operations for potential hazards. 

We were reminded of the need for review and sweeping improvements to be made following an incident at Lytte?lton Port in Canterbury, when a port hatchman was injured while unloading a ship, The Press reported. 

According to a source, the worker fell down an open hatch – a drop of about two metres – and broke his arm. Although he may have also suffered from a concussion, the company stated that he was able to walk to the ambulance. 

The incident has prompted port unions to call for review of health and safety standards throughout the industry, The Press noted, particularly since this adds one more accident to a long list of casualties at ports.  

To that end, John Kerr – the South Island organiser of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union – stated that the WHS reforms should bring some much-needed attention to dangerous conditions. 

"They will enforce accountability from the wharf to the board room and we can't have that diluted," he said, according to the news source.

"Every death or serious harm incident is one too many. I've already got members contacting me… asking when is this going to end." 

Importantly, when the new WHS bill comes into effect, the legislation and codes of practice will need will need to be translated into the development of a robust, responsible health and safety program.

The WorkSafe website does provide some resources to help enterprises take a proactive approach. WorkPro's extensive library of practical training modules for various industries and occupations can help companies manage their staff inductions to mitigate risk and achieve a commitment to a safe workplace.

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