NZ health and safety law changes just around the corner

Health and safety legislation is something no business can afford to ignore, which is why it's essential to be aware of upcoming changes coming into force next month.

Every business in New Zealand has a legal obligation towards its staff to keep in touch with the latest health and safety laws and make sure they are implemented. Failure to do so could lead to prosecution, a loss of reputation and other issues that might cause your company to make a claim on your business insurance.


What changes have been made?

The Health and Safety Reform Bill will be formally introduced on April 4. It forms part of the Working Safer: a blueprint for health and safety at work, which aims to revolutionise safety across the country.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment stressed that workplace injuries and fatalities across the nation are "unacceptably high" and significant improvements are not being made to overcome the issue.


Statistics New Zealand reveals that in 2014, a total of 226,100 claims were made for work-related injury, 28,100 of which were for more serious claims. This is the equivalent of around 111 claims for every 1,000 full-time employees.

By implementing these health and safety reforms, the government aims to reduce the workplace injury and fatality rate by 25 per cent before 2020. This will involve a collective effort between employees, businesses and the government.


What will businesses need to do?

To prepare for the changes, businesses need to read up on what they entail and amend their operations well before April 4. Although the onus isn't solely on the business owner, they need to make sure everyone else is aware of what their roles will be in encouraging safer workplaces.

Among the biggest changes will be the introduction of a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU). Despite the official terminology, this will generally be a company rather than an individual who is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of its workers.

In situations where a site is shared with other organisations, or contractors are used, the PCBU will need to liaise with others to provide a holistic approach to health and safety.

Another major difference is how incidents within the workplace are monitored and recorded. The PCBU will be responsible for holding workshops and talks throughout the year to keep members of staff updated and proactively manage risk.


What will employees be required to do?

Workers are just as important when it comes to reducing workplace risk as company managers. The Health and Safety Reform Bill aims to encourage more effective worker engagement and participation, which in turn should lower the number of incidents that are encountered.

Employees should be regularly updated on changes to national legislation, as well as any new strategies put in place at the company to ensure compliance. This is one way in which firms can stay in line with the new laws, while also minimising the chances of making a business insurance claim.


Protecting your business in New Zealand

Statutory Liability Insurance can defend you, your business or employees in the case of an unintentional breach of Heath & Safety legislation.  It covers legal defence costs, in many cases these costs are a lot higher than the actual fine.  Be aware that Statutory Liability Insurance is unlikely to cover the actual fine, however a good broker can advise on the best way to protect your business.

Rothbury has been in the insurance broking business for more than 60 years, so we know what sort of risks your company faces. Whether you're getting to grips with new health and safety laws or taking on new staff, it's important to make sure you are covered.  

With our comprehensive range of business insurance solutions, you can ensure your operation has the best protection from what might be just around the corner.


Also read New law makes workplace heath and safety your responsibility.

David Walton

About the Author

Name: David Walton        

I have been involved in the insurance industry since 2004. Initially this was in a legal capacity before I moved into a commercial insurance role some years later. My legal background is put to good use at Rothbury…
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I have been involved in the insurance industry since 2004. Initially this was in a legal capacity before I moved into a commercial insurance role some years later. My legal background is put to good use at Rothbury where I am Senior Technical Advisor as well as manager of Rothbury's Motor Vehicle Underwriting businesses.


Disclaimer: The articles published on this blog are designed to provide general information and do not take into account any individual’s particular circumstances. We recommend that you obtain professional advice on your requirements before making any decision about a financial product.

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