Tuesday January 30, 2024 11:33
Earlier last year the previous Labour government quietly passed into law significant changes to: Part 3 – Worker engagement, participation, and representation of the Health and Safety At Work Act – 2015 and introduced amendments to the Health and Safety At Work (Adventure Activities) Amendment Regulations 2023.
For small to medium sized NZ companies these could have a significant impact on the way they run their businesses.
The Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Act 2023 (“Amendment”) was passed and came into effect in June 2023. In this newsletter we examine the changes imposed by the Amendment and the possible implications for PCBUs.
The Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Act 2023 has now passed into law, bringing changes aimed at increasing access to worker engagement, participation, and representation. The changes update the regulations and remove previous thresholds that limited this access.
Before the Amendment was passed, organisations (“PCBUs”) were able to decline a request from workers to initiate an election for health and safety representative(s), if it had fewer than 20 workers and it was not in a designated high-risk sector or industry.
Further, PCBUs were also able to decline a request to establish a health and safety committee:
This Amendment now requires all PCBUs:
The Amendment also introduces a timeframe for establishing a health and safety committee as soon as practicable after receiving the request.
1. Who can make a request for a Health & Safety Committee ( HSC )?
Health and safety committees Section 66 (1). The following people can request that a PCBU establish an HSC for part or all of the business or undertaking:
2. When must PCBUs establish an HSC?
Health and safety committees Section 66 (2). A PCBU must establish an HSC as soon as practicable after receiving a request as described in Section 9.1 of these guidelines. The HSC can be for part or all of the workplace.
3. A PCBU can decide to set up an HSC Health and safety committees Section 66 (3)
A PCBU can set up an HSC before receiving a request. The HSC can be for part or all of the workplace.
This Bill mostly affects small businesses (those with fewer than 20 workers) that are not in a designated high-risk sector or industry, as the Amendment will limit their choices on how they manage the health and safety participation practices in their organisation. Further, the Amendment could add to the compliance and training costs that they incur.
If a PCBU does not comply with their obligation to initiate the election of health and safety representative(s) or to establish a health and safety committee, they could be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000.00 for an individual and up to $25,000 for an organisation upon conviction.
The new Coalition Government has indicated that it will review the Health and Safety At Work Act – 2015 to make employees as well as employers ( PCBU’S ) accountable and fairer for everyone. We will wait and see!
In our next issue we will cover the Health and Safety At Work (Adventure Activities) Amendment Regulations 2023.
If you have any concerns around this topic or other Health & Safety matters, your Securo Consultant is available to help. We can also advise on hazard management and provide access to specialist health professionals who provide health monitoring services.
So please give them a call or you can contact Securo head office on 0800 55 33 44.
Parts of the information in this newsletter has been derived from guidance documents published by WorkSafe NZ which are available at www.worksafe.govt.nz and parts of the Health and Safety At Work Act – 2015.