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Changes to New Zealand’s Health & Safety Act puts the onus of safety on business leaders.jpeg

According to Worksafe, New Zealand’s work-related fatalities are three times higher than that of the UK and almost twice as high as Australia. This alarming statistic prompted the government to repeal the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1992 and replace it with new laws that came into effect on the 4th of April 2016.

Under the new legislation, company directors and people in senior leadership roles will be held accountable and personally liable for poor compliance and unsafe work practices, including injuries.

According to the Act, the duty of due diligence means that senior leaders of an organisation must take reasonable steps to:

  • Keep up to date with knowledge of health and safety in the workplace
  • Understand the health and safety risks associated with the nature and operations of the business
  • Ensure there are resources and processes in place to minimise risk in the workplace
  • Ensure there are processes for the business to receive, consider and respond to information about any hazards or risks.

In addition to this repeal, the ACC Workplace Safety Management Practices (WSMP) product will be discontinued as of 1st April 2017. The WSMP had previously offered a 10-20% reduction off the Work levy for any business that put health and safety systems in place. However the ACC has found that after 16 years of this practice, there has been no significant reduction in injuries or claims. Customers of the WSMP also provided feedback on the product, saying that it was administratively taxing, restrictive and not tailored to meet the needs of their businesses.

A new incentive product will be introduced by the ACC after they have collaborated with New Zealand businesses to better understand their needs.

With the new Health and Safety at Work Act already rolled out, and an incentive from the ACC on the way, it is now critical for businesses to not only be compliant with the law, but also prove that they are compliant. There are serious financial and legal repercussions for senior leaders in businesses if their people are injured on the job and there have been cases in the UK where company directors have received jail time for failing to protect workers.

The New Zealand government has done well to identify a clear problem with the health and safety of its citizens and has taken strong action to improve safety standards across its industries.

There has never been a more pertinent time to review how your business manages risk and safety, and this is where Vault’s EHS software can make governance, risk and compliance an easy process for all.


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