With the passing of the Health and Safety at Work Act, the legislation introduced a number of new requirements for both businesses and workers. In many respects, businesses with strong health and safety processes were in a secure position from the offset. However, due to the new wording, and the introduction of new concepts and definitions, many contractors and businesses are unsure about what the Act and its obligations mean to them.
In response to this environment of ambiguity, WorkSafe New Zealand released several short films that aim to clear the air. These "Icebreakers", as they are called, combine present crucial information about work site safety in the most quintessential Kiwi way.
So to help you understand how the Act is to be interpreted, here are three Icebreakers to get you learning and laughing all at the same time.
Icebreaker 1: Is it Reasonably Practicable?
When the Act was introduced last year, the phrase "reasonably practicable" was widely misunderstood. Yet, the term is of much importance and can be found throughout the Act.
The term ensures that the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) was doing everything in its power to keep workers safe and healthy. The term is an indication that a PCBU is expected to make a judgement call that involves considering the risk against the available resources.
WorkSafe points out organisations that follow industry best practice when carrying out tasks are likely to already be taking satisfactory actions to ensure health and safety.
Icebreaker 2: Risk management
Another key component of the Act is the effective management of risks through the identification of new hazards. Keeping workers safe from harm involves identifying and managing the risks that face workers on an everyday basis.
In the video below, the manager is helping another know about a new hazard that will be on the floor that day. Additionally, she has put in place a risk a management system that can effectively govern the new hazards.
WorkSafe advises employers and employees to manage the most significant and crucial risks first before moving on to less serious risks. Like the manager in the video, behaviour, knowledge and the processes themselves should be continuously monitored and revised to ensure that all new risks are accounted for and workplace health and safety compliance is achieve.
Icebreaker 3: Working with others towards health and safety
As all builders know, construction sites are typically buzzing with activity. From waterproofing professionals to scaffolding, the number of different people and businesses working on a site can make safety compliance a difficult proposition.
However, ensuring businesses work together towards a safe work site is a fundamental aspect of the new Act. Where two or more businesses overlap, so do their responsibilities to health and safety. What this means is that businesses need to ensure they consult, liaison and coordinate with others to ensure they meet their obligations under the Act.
According to the government, every week one person dies at work, while another 15 people die from work-related diseases. New Zealand's health and safety record is twice as bad as our trans-Tasman neighbours, while it is three times worse than the UK's. With the cost of deaths, injuries and other health issues estimated at $3.5 billion and the unquantifiable emotional costs on family and friends, the government has made it a priority for businesses to work together.
One of the best ways to ensure that your business is compliant with the new Act is through safety software, such as the cloud-based SiteApp. Not only does it condense the workload by making your safety documentation easily accessible, it also can help monitoring as information is displayed in real time.
If you would like to know more, talk to the experts at SiteApp today and find out how they can customise the application to fit your compliance and business needs.