Major health and safety consultation begins

A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden. 

This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in the ACT-National Coalition Agreement. 

“Our health and safety culture can be summed up by the sea of orange road cones that have taken over the country. From Santa parades to property development, you can’t get a lot done without having to set up a barricade of cones. 

“While they may improve health and safety in some places, in other situations their prevalence just doesn’t make any sense. 

“Businesses and community organisations spend a huge amount of money trying to keep people safe, but it’s worthwhile asking: are the rules and expectations proportionate to the actual risks, and when should common sense prevail?

“Lawyers and company directors should not have to be kept up late at night anguishing over what ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ means. 

“That’s why we’re holding this consultation and also why I am travelling across the country in the coming months to hear from businesses and workers who are impacted by the current rules and regulations. I want to listen to experiences with our work health and safety system, including what they think the role for government should be and where they think we’ve got the requirements right and wrong.”

The Government is seeking feedback on people’s experiences with the health and safety system, including views on issues such as:

  • Whether health and safety requirements are too strict, or too ambiguous, to comply with.
  • Difficulties caused by the overlap between work health and safety legislation and other requirements.
  • The actions that businesses undertake, the reasons behind these actions, and their effectiveness. 
  • Whether consequences for not complying with health and safety obligations are appropriately balanced and reasonable.
  • Whether the threshold at which work-related risks need to be managed is under- or over-cautious.

“New Zealanders expect and deserve to have their family members return home safe and healthy at the end of each and every workday. Where we have to follow rules to keep ourselves or others safe, those rules should be clear, sensible and proportionate to the risk,” Ms van Velden says. 

“The actions businesses and workers need to take to protect health and safety should be appropriate and meaningful, rather than just another tick-box exercise.

“I look forward to meeting Kiwis across New Zealand and hearing their views directly.”