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BETTER REGULATING PLANT STRUCTURES AND WORKING AT HEIGHTS
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MBIE, in consultation with WorkSafe New Zealand and other stakeholders, has released a discussion paper outlining a review of regulations relating to plant, structures, working from height, scaffolding and excavations.

The purpose of the review is intended to ensure the regulations meet the changing environment in which businesses are operating, keep up with emerging technological advances and most importantly ensure that what is required of PCBUs is clear and achievable.

Discussion paper summary

The paper proposes various options for addressing risks arising in the focus areas. Some are new, while others are taken from Australian and UK regulations.

Protections for people working with plant

MBIE has proposed implementing regulations:

  • to ensure safety features are adequate and properly used;
  • to ensure that plant is appropriately maintained while ensuring that alterations do not pose risks to health and safety;
  • that cover all plant, including lifting plant, industrial robots and lasers; and
  • to apply a prescribed risk management process, which sets out a hierarchy of controls for managing risks, with additional control requirements for particularly risky plant.

The reformed regulations would replace the existing regulations for plant, but many of the safety requirements will be familiar, for example, requirements around guarding and training.

Protections for people working with mobile plant

The current regulatory framework relating to mobile plant only covers some of the risks, and there are many exemptions. MBIE has therefore proposed:

  • requiring ‘operator protective devices’ on all mobile plant;
  • introducing specific requirements to manage the risk of collision; and
  • introducing passenger safety requirements.

Designing, manufacturing, importing, supplying, and installing plant or structures

The paper further recognises that some risks are best mitigated by ‘upstream’ suppliers and manufacturers, rather than shifting responsibility to those that control the use of plant and structure in the workplace. The paper proposes:

  • requiring information sharing and hazard/risk identification throughout the supply chain;
  • clarifying duties of importers to obtain information from overseas designers and manufacturers; and
  • requiring suppliers of second-hand plant to identify faults and provide information to the person being supplied.

High-risk plant

The paper divides ‘high-risk’ plant into two categories: cranes, passenger ropeways and pressure equipment, and theme-park rides and amusement devices. To mitigate the risks relating to both categories, MBIE has proposed implementing central registration of high-risk plant, which would require both plant designs and individual items of plant to be registered.

Working at heights and scaffolding

MBIE has recognised that falls from height cause significant harm and cost, particularly in the construction sector. Much of this cost is imposed directly on clients. The paper proposes applying the prescribed risk management process to work at heights in all workplaces, with a mandatory hierarchy of controls for construction work.

Excavation work

The risks posed to workers from excavations and trenches include collapse, falls, unsafe atmospheres and striking underground services. The paper proposes:

  • requiring business to specifically manage these risks;
  • requiring businesses to prevent unauthorized access and shore trenches deeper than 1.5 metres; and
  • creating an express duty to check for underground services before excavation works can commence.

Want to make a submission?

MBIE is focusing on plant, structures, working at heights and excavation because these regulations touch on so many sectors of the New Zealand economy and are part of so many types of work, but also because they are the areas where New Zealanders are harmed most often. If your work involves any of the focus areas you should seriously consider having your say about how your business will be regulated in the future.

Submissions close at 5pm on 4 October 2019. Online submissions can be made here. To read the Paper, click here.

Our health and safety team is ready to assist you to understand how the reforms may affect your business and to prepare your submission on the proposed regulatory framework.  

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