Working Smarter – Working TogetherThere are new laws aimed to get everyone involved in staying healthy and safe at work — and also cover the safe removal of asbestos. Here’s what you’ll need to know.
The new Health and Safety at Work Act replaces the Health and Safety and Employment Act 1992. Major changes include:
- The classification “person conducting a business or undertaking” (PCBU);
- The primary duty holder;
- A positive duty of due diligence on those in senior management roles;
- A three-tiered much tougher penalty regime.
The new law says everyone must play a part in working in a safe and healthy way. You must also do what is “reasonably practicable” to manage health and safety risks at work — this means doing what a reasonable person would do in your situation to find workable ways to eliminate or minimise risks.
The law also covers which businesses must have a health and safety (H&S) representative or committee.
Depending on what you’re already doing about keeping people healthy and safe, it may not be as hard, expensive or time-consuming as you think:
- Your business must make sure all workers can contribute to health and safety decisions at work.
- If you have a small business that’s not in a high-risk industry, you don’t have to act on a worker request for an H&S rep or committee. But you’ll still need to get workers involved in H&S in ways that meet your business needs, size and level of risk — and suit your workers.
- If you do operate in a high-risk sector, you must have an H&S rep or committee if asked by your workers.
What WorkSafe are doing to helpVisit the HSWA website www.business.govt.nz/worksafe for a guide you can download. WorkSafe will be supplementing regularly as they finalise the formal guidance for employers. They will also be rolling out guidance, fact sheets and extra resources now that regulations have been finalised.
Asbestos licencesMost asbestos removal work over 10m2 will require a licence from 4 April. This affects not only asbestos removal businesses, but also builders, roofers and other tradespeople who remove asbestos.
WorkSafe want to make sure workers who come into contact with asbestos have the skills and experience to keep everyone concerned safe. At present more than 170 Kiwis die per year from asbestos-related diseases.
What you need to doEither use a licensed remover or obtain a WorkSafe removal licence if you want to:
- take out more than 10m2 of non-friable (bonded) asbestos, or asbestos-containing material (ACM) in one job
- remove any amount of friable asbestos
What’s still to come?Regulations specifying infringement offences and fees will be finalised shortly. The regulations for work involving hazardous substances are currently being consulted on and will be finalised later this year.
Regulations to support the power in the Act and Phase Two regulations over the next two years.