Helping to understand law changes


THE Health and Safety at Work Act will apply to every business in New Zealand. That means more than half a million business owners and managers need to know what the new law means for them.
There will be plenty of people offering advice — lawyers, industry associations and health and safety consultants to name a few.
Some of them will be lining up to sell you a health and safety solution and, while there are some great sources of advice and support out there, you might want to do a bit of research before signing on the dotted line.
For many businesses, health and safety is not that complicated. It is a matter of identifying risks and putting in place sens› ible, proportionate measures to man› age those risks.
But what might those risks and control measures look like? Obviously that depends on the type of business and will vary hugely from industry to industry. WorkSafe is preparing a range of new guidance material which will cover the new law and associated regulations (being rolled out over coming weeks and months).
This will include everything from formal Approved Codes of Practice and good practice guides down to the more accessible fact sheets, case studies and interactive tools on the WorkSafe website.
So that means that if you’re running, for example, apanel›beating and spray painting business there will be relevant support information available on everything from the storage and handling of hazardous chemicals to a factsheet on how to choose and use the correct respirator.
It’s also great to see that some industry bodies are producing their own advice.
But some people may feel they need more than access to guidance, factsheets and written advice. Per› haps you want someone to review your business directly — to come in and assess your risks and your health and safety practices and processes. That can be a valuable exercise.
If you decide to use a health and safety consultant it pays to check their credentials and shop around, just as you would when buying any other service.
The Health and Safety Association of New Zealand ( has some good advice to help you find an appropriate health and safety profes› sional. It has produced a handy checklist of five quick questions for you to ask prospective advisers to make sure they’re right for the job.
It’s not just business owners and managers who may want to get ready for the new law. Many workplaces already have workers’ health and safety representatives, and free trans› ition training is available to support them to adjust to the new law. That is available from Safety n Action ( and can be completed either online or through a half›day, face›to›face course.
April 4 is not far away. Spending some time now to get ready for the Health and Safety at Work Act will pay dividends in the long run.
Not only will you understand your legal obligations, you and your work› ers will be safer and healthier, and so will your business.
— John Tulloch is WorkSafe New
Zealand’s general manager of
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