In New Zealand, 50 to 60 people are killed each year in workplace incidents, with hundreds of others dying as a result of work related ill health. The statistic is even worse when compared with Australia as the number of incidents in New Zealand is nearly twice as high.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act) is the over-arching law setting out key principles and obligations of everyone in managing safety in the workplace. The Act came into effect last year, repealing the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. One key change for you to note is that the Act, following its implementation, makes managing safety a responsibility of everyone in the workplace. Of course, the obligations on employers are stronger than those on employees, but employees are still obliged to ensure they do not jeopardise their own safety.
The biggest change with the implementation of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is the introduction of the concept of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). The concept of a PCBU is a way of placing the management of safety concerns on more people in the workplace. However, while this definition covers most people engaging in the workplace, it does leave workers off the list of those legally obliged to manage safety. The use of PCBU is broad, and is used throughout the Act to describe all type of modern arrangements in the workplace, which can often be referred to as employers or businesses.
The primary duty of care makes it a requirement for you to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of your workers or employees and any workers influenced or directed by the business. Importantly, you must look after those potentially at risk by the work of the business including customers, visitors, or the general public.
The Regulations of the Act aim to make it clear what the legislative requirements look like in practice. There are a number of regulations, however, it is best to have policies in place to address key areas of concern including:
• providing and maintaining a work environment free from health and safety risks
• ensuring safe plant and structures are in place, and maintained
• providing safe systems of work
• ensuring plant, structures, and substances are handled safely
• providing clean, safe, and maintained facilities for the welfare of your employees
• training, instructing, and supervising employees to ensure safety is promoted in your business
• monitoring the condition of your employees to limit the risk of illness or injury in the workplace
• ensuring any accommodation is safe for employees
It is of little surprise that the best outcomes come from mutual effort, so employees should take reasonable care of their own health and safety. This means your employees must ensure their own actions do not cause harm to themselves or others, and they must comply with reasonable instructions, policies or procedures on the way they work to minimise risk.
Safety is a concern for everyone in the workplace, and regardless of the industry you are in there are risks in nearly every daily task. While there are requirements under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 for you to take the lead in managing safety, there are also obligations on employees which can be incorporated into your own workplace policies.
For advice and support in managing safety in your workplace contact Employsure on 0800 675 700 day or night.