The Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee has released its report today on the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

The following changes to the Bill have been recommended by the Select Committee:

  • flexibility for how firms can meet their worker participation obligations, particularly for smaller business with fewer than 20 employees;
  • confirming that where PCBUs have overlapping duties, they each must fulfil their duties to the extent that they have the ability to influence and control the situation;
  • removing volunteer associations (those with no employees) from the definition of PCBU, so that the Bill does not apply to them, although it will continue to apply to volunteer organisations which do have employees;
  • clarification for the farming sector, so that the duty of farmers managing or controlling workplaces will only extend to the farm buildings and structures necessary for the operation of the business and the areas immediately surrounding them;
  • stating that a farmer's duty to manage and control their farm doesn't apply to recreational users coming onto farm land (apart from when farm work is being carried out in that part of the farm at the time);
  • providing that 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; and
  • declaring that PCBUs who manage or control the workplace, fixtures, fittings or plant at workplaces do not owe a duty to people who are there for an unlawful purpose.

Some additional changes will also be made as the Bill progresses through the next stage of the Parliamentary process.  These include:

  • excluding the family farmhouse from being part of the workplace;
  • changing the sentencing guidance to require that courts must specifically consider the extent of the harm (whether actual or potential) that resulted from the breach, including whether it resulted in an employee's death; and
  • making it clear that a duty holder's obligation to manage risk is limited to doing what is within their ability to control or influence, so that the duty holder's position in the business is taken into account.

The Government has said that the Bill is still on course to be passed by the end of this year.  It is likely that it will come into force in the first half of 2016.

In the next few weeks we will send out additional, more detailed, information on the Bill.  In the meantime, the full Select Committee report is available here.

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