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New Zealand’s new WHS regime means an organisational cultural shift.

Regardless of the sector in which your organisation operates and the number of staff you engage, if you operate in NZ you will be affected by the new WHS laws coming in to effect in April this year.

Whilst the key objective is to reduce workplace injury and fatalities, the drive for consistent and transparent roles, responsibilities and obligations that cater for contemporary workforces will demand cultural change and attitude.

The new Bill is modelled on Australia’s WHS Harmonisation Laws, which has seen the number of work-related deaths reduce 16 per cent since 2012, according to WorkSafe New Zealand. While only time will tell how effective New Zealand’s law will be, it seems probable that it will help the country protect its workers to a similar degree.

Here are a few ways the new Bill will affect your organisation:

  1. Worker vs Employee

The new term ‘worker’ will replace employer to be more closely aligned with modern working arrangements. The term incorporates Apprentices, permanent, casual, temporary and contract workers, sub-contractors, labour hire workers, and students on work experience.

Both workers and Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) will be responsible for workplace health and safety.

  1. Employer vs Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU)  

A key change under the new Bill is that the term Employer will change to PCBU (often defined as a business entity, though it may be a single person). The PCBU will have primary responsibility for health and safety in the workplace, as they are typically in the best position to assess risks, have influence over the organisation and be able to make or authorise improvements where appropriate.

So far as is reasonably practicable, a PCBU must ensure the safety of its workers by maintaining a secure working environment, providing proper training and supervision and monitoring the health of workers, among other tasks.

  1. Star Rating Scheme

Under a joint effort between ACC and WorkSafe New Zealand, supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, all companies will be awarded a safety star rating based on how well they manage their WHS processes. Enterprises that volunteer for the initiative will have their rating exposed to the public.

There is incentive for those who choose to participate in the Scheme and whilst there have been no official announcements yet, but it’s probable that these incentives will include ACC levy discounts and exclusive access to Government business.

  1. A more proactive approach to WHS  

As explained, another key change in the bill is the shift away from the more passive style of WHS management, which might include monitoring and reporting workplace hazards to a more proactive and performance-based approach to safety.

The adoption of a positive safety culture has a number of benefits:

  1. Reduction of workplace injuries
  2. Enhancements in productivity due to reduced injuries that results in absenteeism
  3. Reduction in ACC premiums due to reduced injuries
  4. Potential access to exclusive Government contract work as a participant in the Star Rating Scheme
  5. Fulfilling your obligations
  6. Clearly understand the Laws
  7. Understand if there is an Approved Code of Practice that applies to your entity
  8. Conduct an Audit of your existing processes and procedures
  9. Design and document your safe system of work
  10. Implement, manage and monitor your system of work

To assist you to fulfil your obligations, refer to the following Fact Sheets published by Worksafe NZ and engage subject matter experts to help you define and implement your system of work.

How WorkPro can help

WorkPro is a specialist in work health and safety inductions and e-learning. We work with hundreds of company’s across Australia and New Zealand to deliver appropriate and practical job and industry work health and safety inductions which clearly forms an important part of your new obligations.

WorkPro is so passionate about work health and safety, that we have published a free e-book as a useful resource and reference guide for the new WHS laws.

Additionally, we offer a broad course library of 30 work health and safety training modules, which you can simply licence as part of your safe system of work.

For assistance to understand and help you to participate in the Star Rating Scheme and gain ACC accreditation, WorkPro has partnered with Manage Company, a NZ-based firm who have made it their business to understand how ACC works to help you gain maximum ACC benefit.

Don’t delay, we can help you implement a simple yet sophisticated induction and training program which will contribute to your ACC accreditation and become an easy way of delivering your responsibilities internally.


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