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Health and Safety Reforms - update Feb 2015

An advisory (updated February 2015) about the likely effect on the sport and recreation sector of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Update 11 February 2015

This advice replaces the earlier advice of August 2014 and provides an update on the status of the Bill.

In particular, it notes the legislation will not be passed until later this year and the treatment of volunteers is under review by the select committee.

Worksafe

WorkSafe NZ has new information for event organisers about activities covered by the new regulations (see above).

WorkSafe NZ further defines adventure activity (specifically what is meant by 'assisted to participate'). There is also more information for contractors or organisations who use contractors.

Read more at "Information for event organisers" on WorkSafe NZ website.

Overview

The Government is looking to change New Zealand's workplace health and safety culture. A new Health and Safety at Work Act will come into force in 2015 (currently scheduled for 1 April). The aim is to substantially reduce work-related harm in New Zealand. The Bill is still at the Select Committee stage and this timing – and the content of the Bill – may therefore change.

The expectation is that leaders of individual organisations will drive this change. As a result, board members, chief executives and some other senior managers will have direct responsibility under the new Act for ensuring that the organisation's facilities and activities are safe. If these duties are breached, these individuals – the organisation's leaders – can be held personally liable. The new penalties for individuals and organisations are potentially very significant.

Other changes will be made to address gaps and inconsistencies in the current legislation. The aim is to ensure that all modern workplaces, work activities and working relationships are covered.

In practice, organisations with strong health and safety practices will not need to make significant changes. However, it is important that organisations, and their leaders, take this opportunity to review their practices to ensure that they have good systems and structures in place, and that these are followed in practice, documented appropriately and reviewed regularly. There will also be changes in some of the detail (e.g. accident reporting), which organisations will need to understand and comply with.

As well as legislative change, the Government has established a new regulator, WorkSafe New Zealand, and published two new sets of best practice guidelines, one for boards on governance and one on workplace bullying. Further new regulations will be drafted to cover specific matters and a discussion document has been released.

The following information summarises the reforms briefly, and directs you to other places where you can find more detailed information.

As with all health and safety matters, the precise steps you need to take very much depend on your organisation's specific circumstances. There is no ‘one template'. It is important that all organisations take note of the changes. While organisations that undertake inherently or especially dangerous activities, such as adventure tourism, will need to take particular care and seek specialist advice, there are risks in all sports and organisations that can cause serious harm and that need to be managed.

 

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