Keep up to date with the latest in Health and Safety legislative reform and the impacts for directors to ensure your organisation maintains not only compliant practices, but a highly engaged health and safety governance culture from the top down and the bottom up.
Health and safety is an essential part of running a business and it’s not just for big business. Whatever your line of work, or whatever your business structure, having a health and safety plan – and putting it into practice every day – will keep your team safe, reduce your risk, could reduce costs and show your customers they can trust you.
The Health and Safety at Work Act
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, effective from 4 April 2016, is part of the Government’s reform of New Zealand’s health and safety system.
The Act aims to create an effective health and safety culture through partnership between employers and workers, which is both top down and bottom up.
It introduces a positive due diligence duty for directors to proactively manage workplace health and safety. You must take reasonable steps to ensure that the organisation meets its health and safety obligations.
Directors are personally liable under the Act, which imposes new penalties for a breach of duty.
All directors on the board need to understand health and safety risks and this responsibility can’t be delegated.
Who is responsible?
The Act introduces a new concept of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU).
The primary duty of care for the health and safety of workers lies with the PBU. Officers of the PCBU must ensure that the PCBU meets its obligations.
Officers include directors and other people who exercise significant influence over the management of the business, such as the CEO.
What does it mean for directors?
A director’s due diligence duty means being proactive - actively engaged, informed and responsive about health and safety issues and holding management to account.
Directors need to take reasonable steps to:
- Know about, and keep up to date on, work health and safety matters
- Understand the nature of business operations and the associated hazards and risks
- Ensure there are appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise those risks
- Ensure there are appropriate processes for receiving and considering information about incidents and responding to them
- Ensure the PCBU implements processes for complying with its duties; and
- Verify the provision and use of resources and processes.
Safety literacy is just like financial literacy – directors need to be actively engaged to discharge their duties.
This article written by Simon Arcus, CEO of IoD, explains why company directors are paying attention to health and safety like never before in the Safeguard magazine March / April 2015: Issue 150.
Background information on the Health and Safety at Work Act
For background material produced as the Health and Safety and Work Bill made its way through parliamentary process, take a look at the following: