Minister welcomes Health and Safety Reform Bill report

  • Michael Woodhouse
Workplace Relations and Safety

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse has welcomed today’s Select Committee report on the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

“The Committee’s report is an important milestone in the Government’s Working Safer reforms which are aimed at combatting New Zealand’s unacceptable workplace death and injury toll,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“It’s important to strike the right balance between safe workplaces for workers and unnecessary red tape on businesses and I’m confident we have landed in the right space.

“I want to thank the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee for their hard work. They have done a great job and the Bill is in good shape.

“The amended Bill takes a risk-based approach to focus effort on what a business needs to do, what is “reasonably practicable” for it to do, and what is in its sphere of control.

“The Bill also supports more effective worker engagement and participation and will allow businesses to take a flexible approach to this in a way that suits their business size and needs.”

Proposed changes to the Bill made by the Select Committee include:

  • Coverage of volunteers will remain the same as the provisions under the current law, ensuring volunteering is unaffected.
  • Every organisation will have an obligation to have a worker participation requirement but there will be more flexibility in how to meet that requirement, particularly for small lower risk businesses. 
  • Farmers’ duties will be clarified to clearly indicate where and when they do or do not extend on the farm.
  • Clarification that PCBUs must fulfil their overlapping duties to the extent they have the ability to influence and control the matter.
  • Officer duties will apply only to individuals who have a very senior governance role in the organisation where they exercise significant influence over the management of the business.

“In addition to the Committee’s recommended changes, the Government will make some further changes by Supplementary Order Paper,” Mr Woodhouse says.

These changes include:

  • Specifically excluding the family farmhouse from being part of the workplace.
  • Changing the sentencing guidance in the Bill to require that courts must specifically consider death or the harm (both actual and potential) caused by an offence in their sentencing.
  • Clarifying that a duty holder’s obligation to manage risk is limited to doing what is within their ability to control or influence. The officer’s duties will take into account the role the officer has in the business, their position and the nature of their responsibilities.

A summary of the key changes is available here.