Logic needed for new safety rules

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - CONTENTS - By Craig Car­lyle, MESNZ

Be­fore the govern­ment cre­ated a whole new health and safety in­dus­try in 1992, en­gi­neers were largely re­spon­si­ble for health and safety in the work­place.

Af­ter many years of il­log­i­cal and (sadly) some­times laugh­able im­po­si­tions un­der the ban­ner of “health and safety”, en­gi­neers are rolling up their sleeves and get­ting in­volved in the new regime of health and safety reg­u­la­tions and guide­lines un­der the new health and safety Act cur­rently pro­ceed­ing through Par­lia­ment.

The Main­te­nance Engi­neer­ing So­ci­ety of New Zealand, (MESNZ) has adopted a “get in­volved” ap­proach to en­sur­ing that logic pre­vails in the coun­try’s re­newed ap­proach to health and safety gov­er­nance.

The good in­ten­tions of the govern­ment in 1992 were not de­liv­ered by the out­comes. Sta­tis­tics were worse, not bet­ter and far too many of our mem­bers were in that group. Be­fore Pike River we were a lonely voice be­moan­ing the f luro cul­ture so we are pleased to see new ini­tia­tives.

Even with the best in­tent, the same bu­reau­cratic chain and self in­ter­ested par­ties are in­volved in pro­vid­ing the gov­er­nance de­tail so it is vi­tal that the voice of logic and ex­pe­ri­ence is heard.

MESNZ has been at the steer­ing end of the for­ma­tion of the new Health and Safety As­so­ci­a­tion of NZ. This as­so­ci­a­tion of as­so­ci­a­tions is the um­brella group nur­tured by the govern­ment to pro­mote and in­flu­ence ex­cel­lent health and safety out­comes for all New Zealan­ders.

It su­per­sedes the orig­i­nal OHSIG group, which will wind up by the end of the year. MESNZ in­volve­ment in this new body en­sures a di­rect line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for engi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Busi­ness own­ers in Auck­land, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki should now be aware of the pilot in­spec­tion pro­gramme by Work­Safe NZ. MESNZ is closely watch­ing the re­sults, par­tic­u­larly with re­spect to guard­ing. With in­volve­ment in the con­sul­ta­tive pro­cesses, MESNZ is keen to judge if the bu­reau­cracy has de­liv­ered an im­proved path­way for em­ploy­ers or if we have just added cost and com­plex­ity.

In­spec­tors are us­ing four draft in­spec­tion tools cov­er­ing ma­chine guard­ing, dust, noise and fork­lifts. These tools are avail­able on the MESNZ web­site un­der http://bit.ly/1l5lUdb. Other use­ful tools such as the rapidly grow­ing list of guard­ing prac­ti­tion­ers un­der http://bit.ly/1paFreX can be found on the MESNZ web­site.

While the new Health and Safety Act con­tin­ues its march through the Par­lia­men­tary process, the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment (MBIE) is busy­ing it­self de­vel­op­ing the reg­u­la­tions to un­der­pin the new Act.

The topics un­der re­view are risk, em­ployee par­tic­i­pa­tion, as­bestos, haz­ardous sub­stances, and ma­jor haz­ard fa­cil­i­ties.

With some sig­nif­i­cant and po­ten­tially dra­co­nian changes be­ing pro­posed, read­ers would be well ad­vised to ab­sorb the pro­pos­als at http://bit.ly/1wwFHaV Sub­mis­sion pe­ri­ods are tight so be sure to check the dates and, like the MESNZ, make your voice heard.

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