Shake-up for Health and Safety penal­ties

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Un­der the cur­rent law, fines of more than $100,000 for Health and Safety in­fringe­ments are com­mon and repa­ra­tion or­ders of up to $250,000 made.

These fig­ures are likely to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally un­der a new Health and Safety at Work Act be­ing pro­posed by the Govern­ment.

The act fol­lows the in­quiry into the Pike River dis­as­ter, but will ap­ply to all work places.

The pro­posed act sig­nif­i­cantly in­creases fines and terms of im­pris­on­ment for of­fences. It also strength­ens the roles of in­spec­tors and Health and Safety worker rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Risks must be iden­ti­fied. The re­spon­si­ble per­son must then elim­i­nate the risks so far as rea­son­ably prac­ti­ca­ble.

If the risk can­not be elim­i­nated, then it must be min­imised as far as rea­son­ably prac­ti­ca­ble. Em­ploy­ers There is a duty on em­ploy­ers to en­sure the health and safety of work­ers and oth­ers af­fected by the work.

If an event oc­curs they must no­tify the govern­ment of the event, pre­serve the in­ci­dent site, and keep records of what oc­curred.

Em­ploy­ers must also en­gage with work­ers over health and safety and pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in health and safety dis­cus­sions.

Em­ploy­ers must ar­range elec­tions of health and safety rep­re­sen­ta­tives to rep­re­sent their work­ers and then con­sult with the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives must be al­lowed time for train­ing and for them to carry out their health and safety role.

They must also be paid their nor­mal rate of pay while do­ing the role.

Health and safety rep­re­sen­ta­tives can is­sue Pro­vi­sional Im­prove­ment notices and Cease Work notices.

Work­ers can de­cide to cease un­safe work if there is a se­ri­ous risk to health or safety by an im­me­di­ate or im­mi­nent ex­po­sure to a haz­ard ( ex­cept for in­her­ently dan­ger­ous oc­cu­pa­tions).

They can be re­quired to carry out al­ter­na­tive work in­stead. Self-em­ployed The self- em­ployed must en­sure their own health and safety, as well as that of work­ers, vis­i­tors etc. Com­pany of­fi­cers Of­fi­cers of com­pa­nies and other en­ti­ties must en­sure they keep up to date with health and safety mat­ters and en­sure the en­tity im­ple­ments pro­cesses to com­ply with the act. Em­ploy­ees and vis­i­tors Work­ers and vis­i­tors must take rea­son­able care of their own health and safety, not harm oth­ers and com­ply with in­struc­tions and poli­cies.

The du­ties are not trans­fer­able and a per­son can have more than one duty. More than one per­son can have the same duty. If so they must con­sult, co­op­er­ate and co- or­di­nate with each other.

Vol­un­teers and trustees

There are ex­cep­tions in the pro­posed act so that vol­un­teers and trustees of state and in­te­grated schools are not per­son­ally li­able for breaches, but the or­gan­i­sa­tion, such as a school, will be li­able. Penal­ties The sanc­tions un­der the act have been sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased. In­di­vid­u­als ex­pos­ing a per­son to the risk of death or se­ri­ous in­jury/ ill­ness can be sen­tenced to a five-year prison term, or a fine of $600,000, and the max­i­mum fine for a com­pany is go­ing to be $3 mil­lion.

Ev­ery­one will need to be aware of their obli­ga­tions un­der the act and take steps to en­sure they com­ply.

Con­tract­ing out of the act is pro­hib­ited and it is not law­ful to in­sure against fines.


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