Government Allays Farmers' Fears

  • Max Bradford
Labour

Landowners will now have much more certainty about their responsibilities to recreational users following today's passing of the Coalition Government's Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill, Labour Minister Max Bradford said.

"Some farmers had been restricting access to their land, such as for trampers and hunters, because they were concerned Section 16 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act made them liable for the safety of recreational visitors," he said.

"In a country that prides itself on our recreational use of the countryside this is a hopeless situation."

Mr Bradford said Opposition allegations that the changes lower health and safety protection for workers, and that there has been insufficient consultation, were completely unfounded.

"Workers are still fully protected under the amended Act," he said. "There has also been wide consultation, particularly with landowners and recreational and sport groups, over a long period of time."

Mr Bradford said the changes to the Act clarified the duties land owners have to people visiting their property, as opposed to working on their land, by introducing a "warning duty".

This means, for example, farmers must warn visitors of any significant or work related hazards, such as crop spraying in progress. The requirement to warn visitors does not extend to trespassers.

Mr Bradford said it was important to note that the amended act still includes "full duties" in relation to workers.

Full duties to mitigate hazards will continue to be owed to employees and contractors employed by the person controlling the workplace, and to people who are present for the financial benefit of the person in control of the place of work, he said.

Mr Bradford said that the Government's amendment was clearly understood and supported by farmers and recreational users.

"I have received letters of support from Federated Farmers and Transpower, two of the key groups affected by the change", he said.

Mr Bradford said OSH would soon be undertaking an educational programme to help farmers comply with the new warning duty.

Appendix: Scenarios Illustrating the Effect of the New Amendment

1.Scenarios based on Actual Cases

The following scenarios relate to how actual cases taken under the old Section 16 of the HSE Act would be covered by the new Section 16. Please note that other sections of the Act or its regulations may also apply to these scenarios.

Blasting in a quarry. The explosions from the blasts resulted in rock scattering in the construction and adjacent areas, damaging other persons property.

Covered - hazard to people in the vicinity

Member of public was in a shop when a cardboard carton containing toys fell approx. 4-5m from shelving and struck her on the left hand side of her head.

Covered - shopping

Member of public who suffered injuries when a scaffold plank fell from level 3 of a construction site.

Covered - hazard to people in the vicinity

Hotel patron fell over a balustrade approximately 3.15 metres below. Suffered severe head injuries and died in hospital the next day.

Covered - injured person paid to be there

Fatal accident to geriatric hospital resident, aged 93yrs. Clamp in bus to secure wheel chair faulty. Fell backwards, broke neck. Works order issued by hospital listed clamp to be repaired. Job not done, management allowed bus to be used.

Covered - injured person paid to be there

Daughter of shearing contractor injured by transmission machinery. Hazard was known but cardboard fitted. Farmer asked for child to be removed from the shed.

No longer covered - no permission to be there

2.Hypothetical scenarios of who would still be owed full duties under the new Section 16

A person contracted to do work for the person in control of that place of work.

A jogger running along track outside quarry boundary, rocks from blasting hit jogger.

Any person in a shop, whether or not they actually buy anything.

People who pay the farmer to picnic on the property.

A pony club which pays the property owner for permission to use a paddock for a gymkana.

Tourists paying a company to visit a site of scenic interest on private land, where the landowner receives payment from the tour company.

3.Hypothetical scenarios of people who would be covered by the new warning duty under the new Section 16

A parent supervising a child at a swimming pool (where the child, but not the parent, has paid).

Tourists paying a company to visit a site of scenic interest on private land, where the landowner gives consent but receives no payment - tourists must be warned of known significant hazards.

A Transpower worker, gaining access under an enactment, and who has given oral notice - worker must be warned of known significant hazards.

A person employed by DoC to carry out an ecological survey on private land. DoC has sought and received consent - surveyor must be warned of known significant hazards.

A self-employed hunter, given permission to hunt on the property - hunter must be warned of known significant hazards.

A student, required by his or her course to get farm work experience, is working (unpaid) on the farm, consent organised by course supervisor - student must be warned of known significant hazards.

School pupils on a farm visit, permission given to the school - must be warned of known significant hazards.

A parent attending a school PTA meeting, given express invitation by the school organising the meeting - must be warned of known significant hazards.

4.Hypothetical scenarios of people who are no longer covered by the new Section 16. (Note these cases may be covered by other legislation such as the Crimes Act or the Building Act and its regulations)

A courier delivering flowers to a person on a construction site.

A self-employed hunter who is trespassing.

A Transpower worker who has stopped work for the day but stays on the property to go hunting, without permission of the landowner.

A Taskforce Green trainee who does something without permission (e.g. going hunting after hours, or swimming in a creek).

Children on a field trip organised by a museum club, collecting fossils without knowledge of landowner.

A person visiting a hospital patient, unless express consent is given for the visit.