It was only last month that the first significant sentencing decision was made under the ‘new’ Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act). The case of Worksafe New Zealand v Budget Plastics (New Zealand) Limited illustrated maximum penalty considerations under the new Act. The maximum penalty for a breach under the Act is a fine of $3 million (depending on who the duty holder is) or even imprisonment. But don’t be alarmed!
Health and Safety compliance is about putting a suitable system in place and making sure it is used.
Let’s consider a sample of elements that make an effective and compliant safety system:
- Be aware of what your own health and safety obligations are in relation to your role or position in a business.
- Staff must be involved in important safety matters and decisions, and given reasonable opportunities to be represented, to participate and to engage in workplace health and safety.
- Foreseeable hazards and risks to health and safety must be identified, and clear strategies put in place for managing them.
- There is now also a more prescriptive ‘hierarchy’ of control measures under the Act, for how identified hazards and risks are to be dealt with.
- Regular reviews of a business’ safety management system must be carried out and these would also include industry specific standards or codes of practice, emergency procedures, staff training and induction procedures, to name a few aspects of a safety management system.
It is to be hoped that all employers and their staff will be motivated by a concern for their own and others’ health and safety.
If you would like further advice or a compliance check of your own health and safety system feel free to give us a call.