Health &
Safety

Working safely at height

2016 saw legislation for health and safety in the workplace come into force bringing new responsibilities for everyone.

Where the potential of a fall exists you shall consider if the job can be done without exposing persons to the hazard (eliminate) or take steps to minimise the likelihood of any harm.
The requirement for fall protection is deemed by law and guidelines are set by safety standards authorities.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 is part of a reform package aimed at reducing the number of serious work-related injuries and deaths in New Zealand by at least 25 percent by 2020.

Previous regulations were being easily misinterpreted or incorrectly applied and duty holders had difficulty knowing their responsibilities and whether they have done enough to comply.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping people safe.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping people safe and healthy at work, but with responsibilities that match what people can reasonably influence and manage.

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  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 2015

    Every year 52 people die on the job, hundreds more are seriously injured, and 600-900 die from work-related diseases.

    On 4 April 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) came into force bringing new responsibilities for managing work-related risks that could cause serious injury. The HSWA is part of a reform package aimed at reducing the number of serious work related injuries and deaths in New Zealand by at least 25 percent by 2020.

  • Managing risk

    We are now all required to cooperate and coordinate how we manage risks collectively.

    Your responsibilities will match what you can reasonably influence and manage. A duty imposed under the HSWA requires the person to eliminate risks to health and safety, so far as reasonably practicable.

    What does ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ mean?

    Something is ‘practicable’ if it is possible or capable of being done. ‘Reasonably’ doesn’t mean doing everything humanly possible to manage a risk. It means doing what other businesses would reasonably do in the same situation.

    What every business needs to understand is:

    What its work-related health and safety risks are –particularly those that have the potential to cause workers and others serious injury or illness.

    The likelihood of those risks occurring.

    The degree of harm that could result from those risks.

    The options to eliminate the risks.

    The options to minimise the risks (where they cannot be eliminated).

    The associated costs. Consideration of cost should only take precedence over safety when it is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

  • What role do I have?

    Businesses have a duty to do what’s reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of their workers. Most businesses, whether large corporates, sole traders or self employed are classed as PCBUs and have the primary duty of care to ensure health and safety.

    PCBU
    A PCBU (Person Conducting Business or Undertaking) usually refers to a business entity (rather than an individual person) and must ensure the health and safety of its workers it influences or
    directs. This is called the ‘primary duty of care’.
    When two or more businesses operate together, they must work together to fulfil their primary duties of care. A business cannot contract out its duties. However, reasonable arrangements can be made with the other businesses to fulfil its duty, taking into account the level of influence or control each has over the overlapping work.

    Officer

    A person is an officer if they have a position that allows them to exercise significant influence over the management of a business. The role of an officer is to exercise due diligence, ensuring the business meets its health and safety obligations under HSWA.

    Worker
    A worker is an individual who carries out work in any capacity for a business or undertaking. Workers must follow any reasonable health and safety instructions given to them by the business and take reasonable care of their own health and safety.

    What is the primary duty of care?
    A PCBU has the ‘primary duty of care’ – the primary responsibility for people’s health and safety at work. It must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers, any other workers it influences or directs, visitors or any other people who could be put at risk by its work.

  • Who is best placed to have influence and control?

    Those who design, supply or control fixtures, fittings or plant must factor in the safety of those who carry out any maintenance function.

    Upstream PCBUs
    Upstream duties apply to any PCBU that: designs, manufactures, imports, or supplies structures, substances or plant to be used, or that could be reasonably expected to be used, in a workplace.
    The law requires every PCBU to think about the potential health and safety risks to structures, substances or plant in a workplace, and then do what they reasonably can to reduce those risks.

  • The Act significantly increases the category of offences

    The Act significantly increases the category of offenses, with a three-tiered hierarchy being introduced, along with a range of other offending provisions. The Act then imposes across all three tiers a six-fold increase in fines from the Act.

    Recklessness
    Corporate - $3 million fine;
    Officer - $600,000.00 one and/or five years imprisonment;
    Individual - $300,000.00 one and/or five years imprisonment.

    Risk of death/serious injury/illness
    Corporate - $1.5 million
    Officer - $300,000.00
    Individual - $150,000.00

    Failure to comply with a duty
    Corporate - $500,000.00
    Officer - $100,000.00
    Individual - $50,000.00

    Failure to notify a notifiable event
    Corporate - $50,000.00
    Individual - $10,000.00

  • Working to good practice

    Where possible, we should eliminate the risk of a fall. If elimination is not practicable, then steps should be taken to minimise the risk.

    A fall constitutes a place where a person could be injured if they fell from one level to another. This can be above or below ground level.

    Anywhere where the potential of a fall exists you shall consider if the job can be done without exposing persons to the hazard (eliminate) or take steps to minimise the likelihood of any harm. If you’ve identified and assessed a hazard as significant, it must be controlled using the hierarchy of controls.

  • Eliminating and minimising risk

    Eliminate
    Where possible, risks must be eliminated so far as is reasonably practicable. Eliminating the potential of a fall can be achieved through safer design, using alternative construction methods and using specific tools and equipment.

    Minimise
    If elimination is not practicable, then steps should be taken to minimise the likelihood of any harm, resulting from falling. This means considering the use of work positioning systems or restraint and fall arrest system.

  • Controlling a hazard

    Too many falls from height are caused by a failure to plan and work properly. Start by planning a safe approach.

    Identify the hazards
    Identify any hazards of working at height where someone could fall.

    Assess the hazards
    Decide if the identified hazards are significant. How badly harmed someone would be if they fell and how likely a fall could be?

    Control the hazards
    A combination of controls may need to be used to control the hazard. However, eliminating the hazard is the best option.