A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is essentially any entity doing business of any sort in New Zealand. PCBU's are required to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers employed, engaged, influenced, or directed by the PCBU, and the safety of any other person who may be put at risk by work done by the PCBUs. Part of that is to get workers involved in the process of risk identification and control (workers include: employees, volunteers and contractors).
After some 16 months of consideration, 226 submissions, and 2 extensions, the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee has finally released its report on the Health and Safety Reform Bill.
As you are no doubt aware, once again, the Health and Safety Reform Bill has been delayed, with the Select Committee now due to report back on 24 July 2015. Rumours are swirling with regard to the reasons for the delay, and speculation about a possible split in caucus with regard to the ‘workability’ of the current Bill. Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Woodhouse has stated that the government’s priority is to the get the legislation right, and he makes “no apologies for ensuring we take the time we need to land this reform in the right place”. Similarly, Prime Minister John Key has stated that “We are very concerned about making sure the legislation can be implemented by the vast array of businesses across New Zealand”.
In a first for New Zealand, a Company Director has been sentenced to a custodial sentence (four months’ home detention) following a conviction under HASIE. His company was also fined $60,000.
In addition to this watershed case, a number of other high-profile prosecutions are keeping WorkSafe NZ firmly in the public eye, and the media spotlight.
We explain your reporting and recording obligations under the Health and Safety Reform Bill
As you might be aware, the Government is in the process of introducing new workplace health and safety legislation. The Health and Safety Reform Bill is currently before Select Committee, and is expected to become law in April 2015.
Today is International Workers’ Memorial day, commemorating employees and contractors killed in the course of performing their jobs. In New Zealand, for the year 2013, 51 people lost their lives at work, and many more were seriously injured. It is an opportune moment to reflect on where we are at with workplace health and safety, and where we are heading.
Quite a few months after the ‘Exposure Draft’ was introduced in October 2013, the government has now introduced the Health and Safety Reform Bill into parliament. The sales pitch is that this is the biggest health and safety reform in 20 years. So what will it mean for you?
We all know about New Zealand’s appalling record in workplace health and safety, compared to the rest of the OECD. This was, of course, brought into even sharper relief by the tragedy at Pike River. The Royal Commission of enquiry into the Pike River tragedy, and the independent taskforce set up to review the state of workplace health and safety more generally, both identified that health and safety needs to be driven from the very top of each company.
The Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, yesterday announced the introduction of a package of health and safety reforms, which aim to make a significant dent in New Zealand’s comparatively poor rates of workplace fatalities and injuries.
This litigation arose out of a tragic accident on Mangaohane Station in which an employee was killed. Health and Safety Inspector Margaret Utumapu sought to interview Mr Bull and Mr Speedy (the directors of the business – Mr Speedy was also the farm manager). Through their lawyer, Mr Bull and Mr Speedy requested a summary of the questions that Ms Utumapu was intending to ask, and made an Official Information Act request for all of the Department of Labour’s information with regard to the investigation. Ms Utumapu stated that she would not provide the specific questions (although she did indicate the general areas of proposed questioning) and would not provide the documents as it would jeopardise the investigation. Mr Bull and Mr Speedy applied for judicial review of the decision not to provide the information sought.
On 1 July, a new workplace health and safety system was launched by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
New legislation, the Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill 2013, had its first reading on 27 June 2013. The Bill establishes the new, stand alone Crown agency - WorkSafe New Zealand - which will take over as the lead regulator of health and safety, most likely in December.
The Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety has recommended sweeping changes to just about every aspect of health and safety in New Zealand. The recommendations are for a new agency (which the Minister of Labour has just announced will be known as WorkSafe New Zealand), new obligations and shiny new legislation to match. So what form can we expect the new legislation to take? And when can we expect to see it?
When it comes to matters of governance, the buck stops with the directors of a company. In matters of health and safety, this concept has perhaps become a little forgotten. The government is committed to holding directors to account for their company’s performance in health and safety, and assisting them to understand and manage their responsibilities. One of the recommendations to come out of both the Royal Commission into the Pike River tragedy, and the Independent Taskforce on Health and Safety, was the need to ensure directors are taking overall responsibility for managing health and safety within their workplaces
The creation of a stand-alone Crown agent was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy. The Government has now announced that it will create this agency, and that according to new Labour Minister Simon Bridges; “The new agency will have a dedicated focus on health and safety and underlines the Government’s strong commitment to addressing New Zealand’s workplace fatality and serious injury rates,”