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RELEASE OF EXPOSURE DRAFT REGULATIONS BEGIN
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Over the past two weeks, the Ministry of Innovation, Business and Employment (‘MBIE’) has released the first batch of exposure drafts for consultation on the major Regulations proposed to support the new Health and Safety at Work Act (‘HSW Act’). The final versions of these Regulations will take effect with the HSW Act at the end of 2015.

MBIE is using representative groups (including technical experts and industry representatives) established by WorkSafe New Zealand (‘WorkSafe’) to check the content of the Regulations in detail.

The purpose of the exposure drafts is to encourage wider consultation, ensuring they are fit for purpose and technically accurate before they are finalised. MBIE is also seeking feedback on the scale it is proposing to use under the offence provisions of the Regulations.

Interested parties are able to provide feedback and comment on the exposure draft regulations by 15 May 2015.
Three of the exposure drafts released relate to new sets of Regulations which will support the HSW Act. These are the:

  • Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2015 (‘General Risk and Workplace Regulations’) (view here).
  • Health and Safety at Work (Major Hazard Facilities) Regulations 2015 (‘Major Hazard Facilities Regulations’) 
  • Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2015 (‘Asbestos Regulations’)

Three other sets of exposure draft Regulations are also open for consultation, but propose to make only minor amendments to existing Regulations relating to mining, adventure activities, and petroleum. These exposure drafts seek to ensure that the redrafting process of the HSW Act does not create any unintended consequences.

We briefly summarise the new Regulations below, in order to assist those intending to provide feedback on them.

General Risk and Workplace Management Regulations

The General Risk and Workplace Management Regulations will impose general health and safety obligations on any Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (‘PCBU’). It is intended to support the primary duty imposed on PCBUs by the HSW Act, by prescribing a risk management process that will apply in particular circumstances as well as more general requirements that will be common across all workplaces. The exposure draft covers matters including:

  • the provision of adequate information to, and training, instruction and supervision of, workers
  • the provision of adequate and accessible general workplace facilities (e.g. sufficient space, ventilation and lighting)
  • first aid facilities
  • the provision and use of personal protective equipment
  • managing the risk arising from airborne contaminants in the workplace
  • managing the risk of hazardous atmospheres in the workplace
  • duties towards young workers
  • suitability of workers to work in limited attendance child care services.

Major Hazard Facilities Regulations

The Major Hazard Facilities Regulations will aim to prevent and mitigate the effects of major accidents that could result in significant harm to the environment, people and the wider community. The draft Regulations impose specific obligations on operators of ‘major hazard facilities’ (commercial operations that store and/or process very large quantities of hazardous substances), including requirements to:

  • undertake a safety assessment of all major hazard facilities
  • implement control measures that eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, the risk of any major incident from occurring
  • implement a safety management system for the operation of the facility
  • implement, test and review an emergency plan for the facility
  • with respect to operators of an upper tier major hazard facility, ensure WorkSafe has accepted a safety case for the facility.
  • notify WorkSafe of any dangerous occurrence

The exposure draft also sets out the basis on which WorkSafe can label a particular work site as a major hazard facility, and outlines the requirements operators of those facilities will need to comply with.

Asbestos Regulations

The Asbestos Regulations will address work involving asbestos, based on Australian Regulations that aim to decrease the long-term burden on asbestos-related disease by strengthening existing duties, processes and standards. The exposure draft is based on two key principles:

  • prohibiting work with asbestos unless the work is authorised and meets the requirements provided for in the Regulations
  • eliminating people’s exposure to airborne asbestos in the workplace to the extent it is reasonably practicable to do so.

The Regulations will require PCBUs to:

  • identify all existing asbestos in workplaces and record it on a register that is available to all workers in the workplace
  • where asbestos is present, require a PCBU with management or control of the workplace to prepare and maintain an asbestos management plan
  • ensure asbestos removalists and asbestos assessors are appropriately licensed and competent
  • contain, transport and bury asbestos waste.

More exposure drafts to come

More exposure draft Regulations are expected to be released later this year. These will include:

  • Administrative regulations, dealing with penalties and fees associated with offences under the first phase of Regulations. These are due to be released in May 2015.
  • Worker participation, engagement and representation regulations. These are due to be released in June 2015.
  • Regulations for work involving hazardous substances. These are expected to be released around November 2015.

What should you do now?

Please contact one of our experts if you or your business would like help in understanding the likely impact of the proposed Regulations or you wish to provide feedback on the exposure drafts to MBIE.

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