Recent changes in the laws governing health and safety representatives in New Zealand (namely the Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Bill) aims to significantly strengthen the health and safety representation of workers…so what are the changes that you need to know?
Broadly, they fall into two categories: an increase in the number of health and safety representatives and an increase in the number of health and safety committees.
These changes mean that:
· If a worker asks for a health and safety representative, the business must initiate an election. Previously, smaller businesses in sectors that were not prescribed high-risk could decline these requests.
· If a health and safety representative or 5 or more workers ask for a health and safety committee, the business must establish one. Previously, a business could refuse a request to establish a committee where the business is satisfied existing practices sufficiently meet the requirements.
It is important to note that the Act does not make health and safety representatives or committees mandatory for businesses. Businesses will only be required to initiate an election for representatives, or establish a committee where workers request them.
This pivotal change ensures that all workers, even those in smaller enterprises, have someone they can turn to for expressing their safety concerns.
We will be rolling out the new additions for all clients Health and Safety Manuals over the coming weeks, with additional templates and supporting documentation for nominations, voting, elections, and committees.
Keep an eye on OSHbox for more updates and insights on health and safety legislation.
Stay safe, New Zealand!