Health and Safety at Work Act, six months on

by Samantha Woodhill10 Oct 2016
It’s been six months since the Health and Safety at Work Act came into force and business are seeking advice on how to respond.

According to Simpson Grierson health and safety director Terry Johnson, compliant organisations prior to the implementation of the act, are now seeking advice on levels of compliance, new definitions, and risk management.

“I think that is quite a big change,” he told NZ Lawyer.

“We’re starting to see that in terms of the way they communicate, the way they interact with clients and organisations that are associated with health and safety.

Lots of reference groups, discussions, lots of communication.”

The “overlapping duties of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)” are of interest to clients, a new term posing new requirements under the act.

“Organisations are now interested in how to document and record how they wish to work with other organisations in respect to overlapping duties,” Johnson said. 

“While this is important, they also have to remember that these arrangements have to be based on the practical interaction of work groups at the frontline. 

“It's how PCBU's interact with each other where the work is taking place that will make the difference, not what's documented in a contract.”

The risk focus of the Act, replacing ideas around hazards and the concept of critical risk management, has been a huge area of interest for clients, Johnson said.

“The HSWA has a strong focus on risk and managing these through elimination or minimisation – so business should know what are things they do that are inherently high-risk and could lead to death or serious injury or illness,” he said.

Using control plans, not just registers allows organisations to assess each control for robustness and effectiveness, Johnson said.