The Health and Safety Reform Bill has recently been passed by the New Zealand Parliament and will come into effect on 4th of April 2016.
The new Act replaces the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2016. There are a number of changes in the new legislation, which are largely consistent with the Australian harmonised WHS laws. The key changes include:
- Worker engagement and consultation strengthened.
- Term “employer” has been changed to “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU)” allowing for multiple persons to hold the same duty of care.
- Officers introduced with a positive duty to demonstrate due diligence; meaning persons at the governance level of an organisation must actively engage in health and safety matters.
- Term “employee” changed to “worker”, incorporating volunteers and contractors as deemed “workers”, now distinguishing between casual and worker volunteers.
- Workplaces with <20 workers in low-risk sectors are excluded from the requirement to have HSRs when requested.
- Definition of a workplace now including all areas a worker is likely to go while at work.
- Replacement of “all practical steps” with “Reasonably practical” with cost only being taken into account after an assessment of the risk and the cost must be “grossly disproportionate” to the risk.
Further guidance on these changes is expected to be released by WorkSafeNZ early 2016 and additional information can be found using the following link: Health and Safety at Work Act