For your own farm health and safety, AgSafe summarises the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015, which we hope will help you understand the Act and some of your responsibilities should an inspector arrives at your property. Sometimes there is no simple way to write things and make them exciting and even illuminating, but take some time and read the paper!!!
1. All businesses should have an operational Health & Safety policy.
2. The policy must clearly identify the PCBU (person in charge of the business or undertaking). This will also identify the ownership structure and the various officers within the business.
3. There are serious penalties if in breach of the obligations under the Act.
4. The policy must have all accident and incident reporting procedures documented.
5. Even with a policy, accidents can happen and various people can be held liable including the PCBU, the workers and the officers within the business.
6. Even directors who are not directly involved on a day to day basis may be liable as Officers as they have a responsibility to make sure there is a policy and the company is meeting its obligations under it.
7. A PCBU is required to take all practicable steps to either - eliminate, isolate or minimise any hazard identified in the business.
8. The policy must identify the hazards in the business and the hazard management plan must state how the hazard is to be managed to either - eliminate, isolate or minimise.
9. The policy must clearly state the standards of operating within the business. The manufacturer’s recommendations for operating plant, equipment & vehicles are considered to be best practice. The manufacturer’s recommendations are considered a default minimum standard if the policy is unclear.
10. Drug and alcohol policies are required and these are also desirable in the Employment Agreements.
11. Employment Agreements. It is desirable as “Best Practice” that a clause is included that refers the employee to a valid Health & Safety policy.
12. Employers must record the levels of competence of each employee.
13. Regular training and retraining is required and this must be documented.
14. Employees must only undertake tasks they are competent to undertake.
15. Warning signs are desirable, they must be clear and identify the hazard (e.g. Bees).
16. Site plans are recommended so hazards can be shown for contractors and other people working in the business.
17. Contractors should have a contractor’s agreement and both parties must know their separate and several responsibilities.
18. “Not knowing is not a defence” even though you did not intend a negative outcome by your act or omission is no excuse. This is written in law.
Accident & Incident Response Procedures.
The recording of accidents and incidents is an essential part of maintaining a safe and healthy work place and complying with the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015.
It is important to identify the extent of the event that occurs and then record and report as necessary.
The full manual sets out what a Notifiable Injury or Event is and what a Non-Notifiable Injury or Event is, but if in doubt contact your Health & Safety Consultant (AgSafe NZ). BUT in any event:
1. Get medical advice if required.
2. Preserve the site, the only disturbance can be to free a trapped person or remove a body.
3. Report to management.
4. Report the accident to your Health & Safety Consultant (AgSafe NZ), they will report to WorkSafe NZ.
5. Report the event to the business insurers in the event that the business has Statutory Liability cover.
Injury or Event management plan:
1. Have a plan to deal with what happens when an Event or Incident occurs.
2. Know who is responsible for investigating the Event or Incident.
3. Develop a process that will be used to conduct the investigation.
4. Designate someone responsible (AgSafe NZ) to deal with WorkSafe NZ and the media if necessary.
5. Identify staff support – counselling or time-off.
WorkSafe may investigate:
1. Arrange for the PCBU or the Health & Safety advisor (AgSafe NZ) to investigate and report to WorkSafe NZ.
2. WorkSafe NZ will decide if the accident, event or incident requires a formal investigation.
3. WorkSafe NZ may decide that there is no requirement to investigate or instigate any further action.
An Inspectors visit after an event or incident:
1. The Inspector is required to identify themselves to the PCBU and produce their identity card. If there is no one on site the Inspector is obliged to leave a notice of entry before they leave.
2. An Inspector must provide an explanation to the person they are meeting with as to the reason for the visit. The Inspector will concentrate on the event or incident BUT they may also engage in other safety concerns that come to the attention of the investigator.
3. A scene investigation is likely to be undertaken during the first visit.
4. The Inspector will:
a) Obtain all necessary background facts including the date and time of the event.
b) The details of the person injured.
c) The employment relationship between the injured person and other parties.
d) The experience of the injured person.
e) Details of any training provided.
5. The basis of the questions is to determine whether the PCBU and others have discharged their legal duties under the Act and whether the PCBU as done all that was reasonably practicable.
During the investigation the Inspector may:
1. Conduct examinations, test inquiries and undertake inspections.
2. Take photographs and measurements
3. Require the PCBU to secure the site for a reasonable period.
4. Require the PCBU to provide details of workers, the work, the workplace, the PCBU’s compliance with the legislation.
5. Require the PCBU or any other person who appears to be in charge to make or provide a statement in such a form that the Inspector may require.
An Inspector may exercise these powers whether or not they are in the workplace or the workplace is still a workplace or whether the information is in the workplace. It should be noted that an Inspector is unable to enter a place of work that is or is within or is accessed through a home without
Power to deal with cause of imminent danger (This is a new power under the Act where the inspector has the power to deal with a cause of imminent danger).
1. This power is available where an Inspector enters a workplace under sections 168 or 169
2. Where there is a reasonable belief that any material substance structure or thing in the place is defective or hazardous to a degree that it is likely to imminently cause death, serious injury or illness or a notifiable incident.
3. This power enables an Inspector to seize destroy or take any other action to reduce or remove the cause of imminent danger. An Inspector is however first required to take a sample of the cause of the imminent danger (if practicable) and must after the exercise of the power provide written notice to the PCBU.
Power to take samples and other objects and things:
This power enables an inspector who enters a workplace or former workplace to take or remove a sample or any material substance or thing for analysis or to secure and retain any material substance or thing for a specified purpose including determining whether relevant health and safety legislation has been complied with and for gathering evidence to support the taking of enforcement action.
Power to require names and addresses (This is another new power if the inspector finds them committing an offence against relevant health and safety legislation or if the inspector reasonably expects that to be the case.)
1. The Act imposes on all duty holders to give reasonable assistance to WorkSafe. It is an offence to do anything to hinder or obstruct an inspector or cause or attempt to cause anyone to do so without reasonable excuse.
2. Protocols should be put in place for dealing with visits by WorkSafe Inspectors which should cover such matters as :
a. Seeing the inspector is inducted onto
b. Making a staff member available to accompany the Inspector at all times while on site.
c. Establishing a procedure for the Inspector to request and receive documents or other information.
Interviews with WorkSafe
1. There are two avenues with regard to the interviews:
a) Interviews with employees or other witnesses
b) Those conducted with the person representing the business, that is, the PCBU.
2. Interviews with employees or other witnesses are always conducted on a voluntary basis. WorkSafe cannot compel any of them to attend an interview provide a statement or answer any questions. If they do agree to a voluntary interview they are entitled to have a support person and can decline to answer any question posed by the WorkSafe Inspector.
3. The Inspectors do have
Possible outcomes following WorkSafe attendance
1. Improvement Notices can be issued.
2. Penalty A failure to comply is an offence punishable by a fine.
3. Prohibition Notices may be issued. With the exception of mining operations, prohibition notices may be issued where an inspector reasonably believes that:
a) An activity is occurring at a workplace that involves or will involve a serious risk to the health and safety of a person arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard or
b) An activity may occur at a workplace that if it occurs will involve a serious risk to the health or safety of a person arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.
4. Infringement Notices may be issued. The regulator may issue an infringement notice to a person who they believe on reasonable grounds is committing or has committed an infringement offence. There is no longer a requirement under the Act for a person to have received a prior warning.
5. The Inspectors may revoke certificates of competence. WorkSafe issues a range of certificates of competence and other regulatory permissions. Revocation suspension or cancellation certificates of competence may occur where it is no longer considered safe for the certification to remain in place.
6. Prosecutions. The power to prosecute is a power held by the Regulator.
7. Proceedings must be commenced within 12 months after the date of the accident situation or set of circumstances to which the offence relates first became known or ought to become known to the Regulator.
a. Within six months after the date on which a coroner completes and signs a certificate of findings under section 94 of the Coroners Act 2006 if it appears from the certificate of findings or the proceedings of an inquiry that an offence has been committed.
b. If an enforceable undertaking has been given in relation to the offence within six months after:
i. The enforceable undertaking is contravened, or
ii. it has come to the notice of the Regulator that the enforceable undertaking has been contravened or
iii. the Regulator has agreed to the withdrawal of the enforceable undertaking8. Where an investigation concludes that a prosecution is appropriate a prosecution may result where:. Death was a result of a breach of the
8. Where an investigation concludes that a prosecution is appropriate a prosecution may result where:. Death was a result of a breach of the
a. breach of the
b. There has been a disregard of health and safety requirements that is reckless or negligent or both.
c. Where have been repeated breaches which give rise to significant risk or persistent and significant poor
d. Work has been carried without or in serious non-compliance with an appropriate license or safety case.
e. A duty holder’s standard of managing health and safety is found to be far below what is required by health and safety law and to be giving rise to significant risk.
f. There has been a failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice or there has been a repetition of a breach that was subject to a warning or simple caution.
g. Inspectors have been obstructed in the lawful course of their duties.h. Where the offending occurs within an identified focus area for WorkSafe.
h. Where the offending occurs within an identified focus area for WorkSafe.