WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HEALTH & SAFETY?  

Understanding what is going on in the wider field of health and safety has become quite difficult at this point in time. As government departments are reshuffled in preparation for the new Health and Safety at Work Act (due next year) the situation has become quite fluid. We have reviewed what's happening and have summarised the changes as we understand them.

The changes were triggered by the Health and Safety Reform Bill, which is in the latter stages of the parliamentary process, and will eventually create the new Health and Safety at Work Act, replacing the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.  The Government’s intention is that the Bill will be passed soon, with the new Act coming into force from 1 April 2015.  The Bill will be supported by two phases of regulations spread over two years. Consultation on the first phase of regulations closed on 1 August 2014.

While the proposed new Act and it's Regulations have not been finalised, there have been some preparations which you may need to know about.

WorkSafe New Zealand is an agency set up under the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), to deal with health and safety legislation in the workplace.  With the reshuffle of other government departments, WorkSafe seems to have inherited the majority of related responsibilities and duties.  You may be aware that WorkSafe have been responsible for the old OSH (Department of Labour) duties for some time, however as of 1 September 2014 they also took over some of the functions of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).  The new Health and Safety at Work Act is proposed to change the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) previously administered by the EPA.  WorkSafe have taken over most of the functions related to HSNO related to the work place, while the EPA will continue to approve the manufacture and importation of hazardous substances, classify hazardous substances and set rules for the protection of people and the environment outside the workplace.

At the moment, with the amount of change going on, there is degree of uncertainty in the industry about some of the final detail, particularly related to HSNO.  Hopefully this will be resolved in time.

But for specifiers and designers the major affect, at this point in time, is how information has been moved about, mostly ending up on the WorkSafe website.

You can now find on the WorkSafe site;

  • Industry & HSNO Codes of Practice (ie. Excavation and shafts for foundations, etc)
  • HSNO equipment registers (ie. Gas cylinders, etc)
  • HSNO certifications and licensing (ie explosives, etc)
  • Industry & HSNO guides (ie. LPG, Diesel, etc)
  • Energy safety
  • General health and safety information including - falling, asbestos, scaffolding, demolition, etc.

Masterspec refers to health and safety matters and documents in a large number of its' sections.  With a lot of official documents being moved to the WorkSafe site, a number of the hyperlinked documents referred to in the Masterspec sections lost their links.  This month we have redirected the hyperlinks to the documents on the WorkSafe site.  Also, all of the sections referring to the EPA and the Department of Labour have been updated where required.  A number of references to OSH and Health and Safety left in the sections will progressively be updated as necessary by the end of next month.

Masterspec will continue to monitor the progress of the Health and Safety at Work Act and its Regulations, and provide updates in future Masterspec Notes. For more information see the links below.

WorkSafe   http://www.business.govt.nz/worksafe/

Health and Safety Reform Bill   http://www.business.govt.nz/worksafe/about/reform

WorkSafe HSNO function   http://www.business.govt.nz/worksafe/about/what-we-do/hsno-functions

 

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