Changes in Health & Safety at Work Legislation

The focus of the new Health & Safety at Work Act is to protect workers and other people against harm to their health, safety and wellbeing by eliminating or minimising risks at work. As part of a reform package, the aim is to reduce NZ’s work-related illness, injury and fatality figures by 25% over the next two years. The emphasis of the new act is to ensure everyone in the workplace is responsible for health and safety.

Despite the act passing into law two years ago, many are still grappling with compliance and familiarisation of the new regulations. Many PCBU’s (person conducting a business or undertaking) of which commercial property landlords fall under, are still working through the details.

While the new act represents a significant legislative change, the reality is that if you were compliant under the previous legislation and prioritised health and safety, then changes are likely be minimal.

The safety of a premise is certainly not a new consideration for landlords. However, to avoid fines and penalties, the latest regulations will require a renewed focus to ensure standards are met and premises are compliant.

As a PCBU, a landlords primary duty is to protect, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers (including any contractors or subcontractors) that are doing work for you. Every step must be taken to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks to workers.

Given the nature of tenanted premises, in many instances, you as a landlord will share responsibilities with your tenants. This will require you to work in conjunction and cooperate to ensure that regulations are being adhered to.

A further consideration for landlords regarding the new HSW Act is its interaction with the Building Act. There are aspects where a building component can be compliant under the Building Act but a risk that requires management under the HSW Act.

Achieving the goal of 25% less workplace incidents by 2020 is an ambitious undertaking. Considering NZ has a relatively poor track record when it comes to workplace safety, it has become necessary to address. To achieve these goal, leadership and action from all involved will be critical, along with an overall reprioritisation of workplace safety.

How can Viranda help? We can assist with getting assessments undertaken. We can also provide professional advice on options to address, outlining your risks, and work with other parties to find practical solutions. Don’t be overwhelmed by this complex issue – get in touch today.

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