Health and Safety bill progresses rapidly

The government's comprehensive re-haul of New Zealand's health and safety regime is progressing rapidly. On 11 March 2014, the Health and Safety Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament.

One of the most striking features of the bill is the new due diligence duty imposed on directors and officers. "Officer" is defined widely and is likely to capture CEO's and other senior employees if they make decisions that affect a substantial part of the organisation's business. To satisfy the new duty, these individuals will need to take active steps, including understanding the hazards and risks of the organisation's operations and ensuring appropriate resources and processes are in place. Directors and officers cannot delegate these obligations. Failures will be punishable against the individual personally, up to a maximum of $600,000 and/or five years imprisonment in the worst cases.

The bill will now be considered at Select Committee level, and the Select Committee will consider public submissions as part of that. Alongside the bill, two phases of regulations will be released for public consultation - the first in early April 2014.

It is expected that the bill will be passed towards the end of 2014. The supporting regulations will then be finalised. The new Health and Safety at Work Act is likely to then become law from 1 April 2015.

Duncan Cotterill has presented widely around the country on the new changes and how organisations can use the time available to prepare for them. If you would further information, please contact one of our health and safety team members below.

Agriculture industry - health and safety guidelines

Worksafe New Zealand is fully up and running, with regular updates on its website. It is currently seeking public feedback on draft health and safety guidelines for the agriculture industry. The deadline for submissions is 28 March 2014.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.