A new approach to reducing harm with introduction of Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
You might have seen the ACC ads on TV recently announcing change is on the way. Behind the high profile marketing campaign is a host of new regulations that will alter the working landscape in New Zealand for the better.
Working towards a safer New Zealand with new legislation
New Zealand has more than 200,000 workplace injuries each year, 6000 people suffer serious harm and 75 lose their lives doing their jobs. In addition to the personal toll the economic and social costs are estimated to be around $3.5 billion annually . These very “unhealthy” statistics simply aren’t good enough for a country of our size and there is broad support for the Government’s goal to reduce New Zealand’s workplace injury and death toll by 25% by 2020.
A “she’ll be right” attitude to Health and Safety clearly hasn’t worked so on the 4th April this year the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 will come into force with a number of ramifications for business owners, directors and employees.
How will the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 help?
The new Act was designed to encourage a more pro-active and participative Health and Safety culture. WorkSafe New Zealand and the ACC are coordinating with industry groups and other organisations to better educate both employers and employees on how to recognise risks and prevent them before accidents happens.
Where this education fails to have the intended effect then the new laws will more severely penalise those found to have breached the Act with the onus placed on managers and company directors to proactively manage workplace Health and Safety. Accidents will always happen and it’s not possible to prepare for every eventuality. What’s salient is that the right procedures have been put in place to reduce the likelihood and number of accidents that occur.
Stay covered as a Director or Officer
Of course, insurance requirements are always an important consideration for SMEs, sole traders and big businesses alike. The good news is Directors & Officers, Management Liability and Statutory Liability insurance policies will all respond to claims brought for breaches of the Act and there should be no requirement to make any amendments to the existing policies. While the actual fines remain uninsurable as they have been for some years the insurance covers for any defence costs of a prosecution under the Act and also for any reparations that are awarded.
With implementation of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 only a few weeks away it’s a good time to check you have the right insurance policies in place and talk to your insurance broker if you’re not sure.
A Quick Summary
- The aim of the Act is to encourage a pro-active and participative health and safety culture in our workforce.
- It increases the penalties for non-compliance and creates a new three tiered hierarchy of offences
- It replaces the duties owed by employers and principals with a broader duty owed by “persons conducting a business or undertaking” (PCBU)
- It imposes a new due diligence obligation on directors and officers It imposes a new duty to take “reasonably practicable steps”
- Changes do not directly alter how current insurance policies will respond to claims
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