New Zealand’s biggest health and safety reform in 20 years is one step closer. The object of the changes is to improve New Zealand’s appalling record in workplace safety. The independent task-force, set up following the Pike River tragedy, reviewed the state of New Zealand’s workplace safety and identified that health and safety needs to be driven from the very top.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act is to be replaced with the Health and Safety at Work Act (due to come into force April next year) and imposes a due diligence role on Directors of a company or on any person who occupies a position comparable to that of a Director. In addition the Act imposes duties on “any other person who makes, or participates in making, decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of the business …” The penalties increase too, up to $600,000 or 5 years imprisonment (or both) for individuals. Businesses can be fined up to a whopping three million dollars.

The new Act also increases the duty to consult with workers on health and safety matters particularly about the adequacy of the safe facilities. Also consultation is necessary when proposing changes in the business that may affect the health and safety of workers. Workers are also permitted to refuse to carry out work that may expose them or another person to a serious health and safety risk.

In summary, the changes in health and safety is all about personal liabilty. Do something now to make sure you and your business are compliant to prevent any exposure for your business.

If you have any employment or HR queries that you would like assistance with, contact us

This article is intended as a point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this article

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