Workplace Health & Safety Reform 2014

Health & Safety in the workplace rules and regulations are changing.

The Health & Safety at Work Act is currently open for submissions and the proposed changes are significant. WorkSafe NZ is the new regulator and this organization has already been established, the proposed new Act provides wide ranging powers to WorkSafe NZ and includes new definitions for who is responsible for workplace accidents, and the definition is very wide.

The new primary duty holder or person responsible is the PCBU – Person Conducting Business or Undertaking and they must take all steps ‘reasonably practicable’ with regards to workplace safety.

The new primary duty holder definition (PCBU) covers all relationships between those in control and those affected, including upstream participants and these could include designers, engineers, architects, manufacturers of equipment that caused an accident, suppliers of the equipment and importers. And let’s not forget business owners, directors, trustees, board members and managers.

Depending on the circumstances and ownership structure there may be multiple PCBU’s involved in work at one location and WorkSafe NZ can prosecute each and every one of those people.

The Act givers workers the right to greater participation in work place health and safety with worker Health and Safety reps able to direct unsafe work to cease.

While many of these changes are designed to improve safety in areas like mining and forestry the rules apply to EVERY workplace and the penalties or potential fines are highly significant – starting at up to $50,000 at the very low end to up to $3m for corporations and up to five years in jail for Individual PCBU’s or workers.

As a business owner you need to know about this, it affects every business!

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