Logic needed for new safety rules
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.