• Peter Bateman
    From time to time health and safety is cited as a reason for doing something (or, more often, for not doing something), when on closer inspection it becomes apparent that H&S has little or nothing to do with it, and is being used as a spurious excuse, a convenient all-purposes cover to conceal the real reason.

    In the UK this happened so often in the media that the Health and Safety Executive felt obliged to create its Mythbusters challenge panel.

    In New Zealand the latest case appears to be the mayor of Tauranga citing H&S as a reason why the council could not intervene to assist beggers and rough sleepers. It is difficult to imagine which law he is referring to.

    If you come across further examples of the mis-use of H&S then feel free to note them in this thread.
  • Michelle Dykstra
    Great idea Peter!

    Worksafe have their own Mythbusting page however this is to address general misconceptions about the Health & Safety at Work Act rather than specific cases.

    Check out https://worksafe.govt.nz/managing-health-and-safety/getting-started/mythbusting-and-faqs/mythbusting/
  • Paula Luijken
    The op-shop on my street "cannot take donations on Sundays due to health and safety regulations"
  • Glenn Taylor
    Despite "edukashun" being afforded to almost everyone its odd that in todays age there is still a huge misunderstanding of the term "Elf un Safety" and how it is hijacked for things nothing to do with it as in Paula's example. A tad sad but also quite entertaining when reading them :-)
  • Janet Mary Houston
    Certainly Bunnings Onion Gate saga should be added. I was asked recently to raise the quality of toilet paper because "it was a H&S issue" - I declined and suggested asking the H&S Rep to raise it at next H&S Committee with management present. However I don't have enough fingers or toes to count the number of ludicrous things that have been brought to my attention as "H&S issues".
  • Murray Belchamber
    Even Lawn Bowling Clubs are being plagued by myths. There are claims aplenty that "the Safety industry" makes rules that the clubs must do certain things or risk massive fines. The things include such rules as removing rink markers from the banks around the greens, banning the drive [a fast bowl aimed at clearing out other bowls], stopping bowlers from sitting on the greens banks, etc. The common reaction to these "rules" is for bowlers to rant and rave about the way bureaucrats are trying to control the sport and every part of our lives. Then they start implementing the rules without checking their validity.
  • Tony Walton
    MYTH: The new law just means more paperwork for everyone.
    Health and safety isn’t about completing endless forms and having health and safety systems in a folder sitting on a shelf. In fact, under HSWA there are only two documents that you are legally required to have – an accident register and a list of all of the hazardous substances kept on your business premises.

    You are required to have a system which identifies and manages the risks created by the work you do. The system doesn’t need to be complex, it just needs to clearly identify the risks, record the steps you have put in place to manage and communicate the risks. If a notifiable event occurs, then you will be required to keep a record of the event for five years. Notifiable events are those workplace incidents that result in a death, serious injury or serious illness.

    Major industry surveys in Australia show 60% of health & safety compliance costs are actually self=imposed by industry itself through their health & safety people or external consultants.
  • Natalie
    At the Safety Expo earlier in the year I spoke with a gentleman at the WorkSafe stand. Upon voicing my concerns regarding endless paperwork and documentation and what was actually required, he advised me that EVERYTHING needs to be documented. So much so that conversations with people (face to face, phone etc.), about anything at all related to H&S should be documented so it could be 'proven' what was said by each party.

    According to him, if it isn't documented then nothing happened and you infact didn't do anything about prevention so everyone will be just as culpable as each other and will be penalised to the fullest extent of the law. As a relative newbie to H&S (2 years' experience), this left me quite worried and also perplexed about the information that is given from different sides of the spectrum and I'm still not overly sure as to the extent of what needs to be documented and what doesn't.
  • Jono Johnson
    Hi Natalie, yes indeed document everything as much as possible - the Worksafe person is correct. "If it isn't documented, it doesn't exist" is on the money - I have also been told this. You need to document everything - "Document" is pretty broad-brush, it doesn't mean you have to hold on to reams of paper, it applies to e-mails etc.
    This is particularly advisable if you are having H&S "issues" with, e.g. an individual or management, especially when these issues result in an accident.
  • Rachael
    Quick diary entries and whiteboard messages are also very handy when needed :)
  • Sheri Greenwell
    - yes, and photos, vidos, etc are all records. Sometimes it is easier to take a photo of a whiteboard or other activities and save it with appropriate details to be able to find it.

    The thing is that the documents are only relevant after the fact, to save someone's butt from legal action if there is an incident. Documents alone do not keep people safe. In addition, if the system behind the documents is flawed, no amount of documents, records and forms will stand up to scrutiny. Ultimately it's about establishing a clear purpose, a meaningful safety management process, and what records or other evidence is needed to provide traceability in the event of an incident. Meaningful systems and relevant documentation - including photos, videos and emails, etc - also provide useful information for an organisation's own internal investigations, audits and reviews.
  • Tony Walton
    Natalie and Alan, the irony is that the first two paragraphs of my post are word for word from the WORKSAFE NZ Myth-busters web page.
  • Tania Curtin
    "Health and safety isn’t about completing endless forms and having health and safety systems in a folder sitting on a shelf. In fact, under HSWA there are only two documents that you are legally required to have – an accident register and a list of all of the hazardous substances kept on your business premises."

    Yip, that's straight from Worksafe... but it is a bit misleading if you ask me... here are a couple of explicit examples of what I mean from the act and regs (off the top of my head - there will be many others):

    1. You need an SDS for every substance you use. Is a safety data sheet not a document?
    2. What if you're designing, manufacturing, importing, or supplying plant, structures or substances that could be used in a workplace? You need to have any calculations, analysis, testing, or examination that may be necessary to ensure it's safe. Plus, you have to provide that, plus information on the intended purpose, and the conditions necessary to ensure safety, to the customer, end user, installer etc. Can all this really be achieved without documentation?!
    3. What about asbestos? You are duty bound to have a documented asbestos management plan in place if you have asbestos (confirmed or presumed) in your workplace... is that not a document?
    4. What about fit-test records for asbestos respirators? Those need to be documented.
    5. Health monitoring records need to be kept for 30 or 40 years - are those not documents?
    6. All records pertaining to notifiable events need to be kept for 5 years.

    And so on and so on - that's just a few of the more overt examples.

    Of course, even when the law does NOT explicitly state that you need something documented... if you face prosecution and don't have any documentation to support your claims, Worksafe and any right-minded judge is not going to consider your claims to be substantiated... therefore, if you want to be able to prove anything in court, actually you DO need documentation.

    How many times have you seen prosecution summaries in which Worksafe lists one of the reasonably practicable steps that should have been taken as having a safe operating procedure ....?

    Can you imagine the defendant standing up in court and saying, "Oh but we did have an SOP your honor. The Worksafe website told us we only needed two documents and that wasn't one of them, so we just agreed on SOP's verbally." Acceptable? I highly doubt it!

    Don't get me wrong... I'm no fan of paperwork! But I'm also no fan of oversimplifying H&S, just to make it digestible for the nay-sayers.

    Firstly, H&S involves people.
    Secondly, it often involves dynamic environments and risks.
    Thirdly, it is governed by extensive legislation.
    Since when is any of that not complex?

    My rule of thumb is...
    If it's important, if it could bite you in the arse any-which-way... document it!
    If it's trivial and cannot possible come back to haunt you (and documenting it doesn't add value to your business)... don't bother.
  • Tony Walton
    Nice summation Tania - as usual.
  • Graham Neate

    You are correct and I often wonder, if WorkSafe only require 2 documents, why would they produce a 50 page document entitled Writing for Health and Safety - "These guidelines help you to write health and safety documents for your workplace"


    Mixed messages?

    I'm all for keeping documentation to a minimum and reducing safety clutter however I've been around long enough to know the importance of keeping good records - lots of them.
  • Andrew
    Kudos to Our Prime Minster and Andrew Little. Good to see them cooking up a public feed of artery clogging bacon at Waitangi WITHOUT the required Health Safety Gloves!
  • Rob Abraas
    They did eliminate the risk of slipping on onions, by not serving any...
  • Andrew
    My new grump for the day. Immigration has refused a work visa for an employee.

    Apparently "Concentration skills" isn't a competency recognised by Immigration NZ so we can't recruit on that basis. Oh well, I'll just go and hire some numbskulls and wait for their lack of concentration to result in lost fingers and crap product.
  • Michael Wilson
    Airconditioning temperature is the biggest H&S issue by complaints for me. We deal with trucks, machinery, travel, risky customers but the temperature of the office is usually too hot and cold at the same time.
  • Peter Bateman
    Battles over the aircon setting? You might be interested in this slightly different take on the issue from Newshub last week!
    [Disclosure: yes, the writer is related]
  • Michael Wilson
    I saw that as a news item a few years back. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/15/women-shiver-at-work-in-sexist-air-conditioning/

    We have moved HR next to IT and are enjoying this issue at the moment.
  • Michelle Dykstra
    A recent article on Stuff mentioned a bar in Perth issuing their female staff with a tighter, lower cut shirt than the male staff are required to wear. Some staff reported feeling uncomfortable wearing such tight and low cut shirts. The manager is trying to justify this requirement by citing Health and Safety "Baggy shirts catch on things and could cause injury in the workplace." However that same manager appears to be doing nothing to address this 'hazard' by allowing male staff to continue to wear their regular shirts.
  • louisas
    Straying away from the subject of record keeping....what should a Rep's weekly allowance be with all the new responsibilities?
    E.g., if a Rep is paid $10 per week...is that at all fair and should their rate be the same as First Aiders?
  • Michael Wilson
    If they do extra hours they should be paid accordingly.
  • Michael Wilson
    Uniforms and dress codes are a nightmare. Add to this breath-ability, high visibility and cost.
  • Simon Lawrence
    Looking at open homes yesterday we were asked at three places to read health and safety information, sign it and hold the stair handrails.

    I couldn't really find fault with the intention (arse covering). But what next? "Please don't put your fingers in the electrical sockets"? Hazard information should be reserved for unusual hazards like slippery paths, swimming pools, stairs without handrails, watch your kids. I mean, hire car companies don't caution us to hold the steering wheel do they?
  • Craig Marriott
    I had exactly the same experience (and response) at an open home. The only 'control' on the JHA was to take care on the stairs. I suggested to the agent she go back to the office and challenge the requirement
  • Andrew
    Went for my usual run around the park this morning. Part way around there is a swale - the path goes down, over a "bridge" and back up again. Total elevation change about 1m. (Just past the mosque for those that know South Hagley).

    There was a kids bike race doing loops of the park. Poor wee mites were made to stop at the top, get off their bikes and walk down / over / up the bridge and then get back on their bikes on the other side

    Apparently a bit too dangerous having kids cycle on that part of the course. Walking much safer. And to add context the kids were going so fast I was able to over take a few of them.

    Needless to say there were a few piles up at the front end as the kids had to come to a screeching halt before getting off their bikes.
  • louisas
    Thanks Michael, you're correct there, but I also think the same should be said with added workload as a result of the role regardless of whether he/she does it within his/her normal hours.
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