9.05.2018

New workplace heath and safety system launched

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 Bill begins the implementation of many of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Pike River tragedy, and the Health and Safety Taskforce which reported back in April this year. Both sets of recommendations identified a key improvement for health and safety in New Zealand would be the establishment of a new, dedicated agency responsible for monitoring and enforcing health and safety in the workplace.

Changes are already being made by MBIE to the way it deals with investigations (up until December when WorkSafe New Zealand will take over): Key changes include the centralised triaging of all notifications to ensure consistency, and a shift in balance toward proactive workplace assessments, away from reactive occurrence investigations. The regulator will continue to attend the scene of accidents, but it will not respond to every notification.

Duty-holders, for example an employer, will be expected to play their part, and to review certain health and safety occurrences themselves. These ‘duty-holder reviews’ are an examination of what went wrong and why, and what the duty-holder has decided to do to prevent a recurrence. Duty-holder reviews will be assessed by investigations inspectors for completeness.

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