Health & Safety Amendment Bill

  • Max Bradford

The Government will proceed with a change to the Health and Safety Act in order to clarify the law and to ensure that farmers and recreational land users understand their responsibilities, Labour Minister Max Bradford said today.

"At the moment a number of farmers are restricting access to their land because they erroneously believe that Section 16 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act makes 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."

The Government's preferred amendment applies to all work places. It contains two duties: the existing full duty, and a new warning duty.

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.

The new warning duty will require a person in control of a work place to warn of known, out of the ordinary, significant, work related hazards.

The proposed changes mean that in the case of a farmer and a recreational land user, the farmer will have no duties to the recreational user unless the farmer has given them consent to be there. If they have consent, then the farmer will only need warn the land user about hazards known to the farmer that arise in the course of work and are significant.

Mr Bradford said that the Government's preferred 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.

The Government will proceed with its preferred form of the Health and Safety Amendment Bill via a Supplementary Order Paper.

Mr Bradford, who today released the Supplementary Order Paper (SOP), said the SOP was required because the Select Committee that had been considering an Amendment to Section 16 had reported back a non-bill.