Health & Safety at Work Act legislation and what businesses should be thinking about for the health of their workers. Why is this important? From June 2018 to June 2019, there has been 87 work related deaths in NZ as well as over 700 work related injuries.
Below are some points to keep front of mind when considering the health of your workers. The PCBU (employer) is required to undertake a primary duty of care, so they need to concentrate firstly on health risks that come from the workplace and doing the work. The harm that results can be immediate (e.g. an injury) acute (e.g. poisoning from a substance) or chronic (e.g. damage to body organ or cancer).
- Do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate or manage the health risks that come from exposure to hazards that have their origin in the workplace
- If the hazard can’t be eliminated, then it needs to be minimized by controlling exposure and monitoring workers health
- These hazards maybe physical or psychological. Examples of physical hazards are noise, exposure to excess UV radiation from working in the outdoors, fumes and vapour's from welding and solvents, dusts from silica's, to name a few
- The risk is that the health of the worker will be impacted by exposure to those hazards (harm). The harm is often not immediately obvious but will eventually result in noise induced hearing loss, skin cancer, or lung disease. Examples of psychological hazards are shift work, extended hours of work, and the result could be stress related conditions and fatigue leading to poor mental health (harm)
- Engaging with a suitably qualified Occupational Health Nurse (not a Technician). Checking the qualifications and credentials of providers is part of the PCBU’s duty of due diligence
Doing fitness assessments and health promoting activities such as encouraging healthy lifestyle behaviour (e.g. healthy eating, regular exercise) is good and has many benefits. These activities need to be in addition to the primary duty of care which is attention to the health risks that arise from the work and the workplace.