• Disclaimer required?
    What are you disclaiming?

    I assume you are trying to avoid any professional negligence damages.

    You might be better off setting up a Limited Liability Company. That would limit your personal exposure.,
  • Can workers refuse to declare health changes?
    As Amanda says, first port of call is the employment agreement.

    I would add there is a difference between a health declaration and getting a health assessment.

    At this point the key question, to me, seems to be "is the person displaying behaviors that suggests they may no longer be competent to do their job safely." If the answer is "no" then you don't have anything to go on. If it is "yes" then standard performance management practices apply.
  • What value do we put on a life?
    Well done OP. Its not an easy number to find.

    It is probably the best number to use in a NZ context as it is the statistical value of life, derived by Min of Transport. It is based on the social cost per fatal crash. Alternative values may be more appropriate for non-transport circumstances.

    So it is essentially the value of a life lost in an accident.

    It has been developed by Min of Transport and then used by NZ Treasury. If it is good enough for them it should be good enough for us. I can't see any good reason for faffing around trying to come up with another value. If anyone did I'd be challenging the basis for an alternative.

    Any faffing around is a purely academic exercise. We could begin, say, recognizing that the average life expectancy in NZ is 82 years so the value of life, per year is $4.7m / 82 = $57,317. Which of course it isn't as the very young and very old likely have less economic value relative to a middle aged person.

    And in a Covid context, for example why would we protect the elderly because an 85 years old is past their statistical value of any kind of return. It is still a discussion worth having if for example huge amounts of debt are racked up as a consequence of managed actions.

    Incidentally the current (Sept 2019) value is $4,918,898. If you are a data nerd check out Treasury's CBAx model.
  • Setting up for a mobile workforce
    Essentially no processes. Basically if your people have the wherewithal to get through life at home and come to work they will be able to navigate all the safety "risks" at home without the intrusion of a health and safety person giving them help. If they can't, they ought not be at home and need better direct supervision in the usual workplace. (Disclaimer - I was asked to complete a 16 page work from home document, including checklists and photographs for our Covid home workers .Needless to say it went in the bin.)

    I've just had to bring the last lot back to work this week. Quite happy sloping around in their jim jams and then creating work patterns that work well for their book reading, social networking, afternoon naps and whatever other home comforts they enjoyed.

    Biggest issue is measuring productivity, not safety. So home based work, works well for measurable process output type work. A bit early to say but I reckon 3-5 home based workers = 1 less office worker. That is - productivity, at home isnt that great over the longer term. Theres also issues around protection of IP / network security etc

    It does require a high trust model. I work with the principle that 10% of people will create 80% of your problems. Doesnt matter what the subject or issue, principle applies and has withstood the test of time. Same applies to home workers. I had my usual 10% causing the usual problems. 80% worked really well.

    I didnt entertain any conversation on power, internet or other household expenses. These would have been generated by the home occupant regardless of work. And in any case off set by commuting cost expenses. Unless the expense was exceptional I'd be more concerned about the thinking of the individual than the safety. I did reimburse office consumables such as printer ink.
  • Covid: S5 Hazard Identification

    I don't believe in luck. Karma yes. Luck no.

    Some basic facts.
    - NZ was in its summer. While the northern hemisphere was in its winter "flu season"
    - NZ has a large expanse of water between us an our nearest neighbor, so we don't have people strolling over our borders spreading things.
    - While we think we are a tourist mecca / Business hub we are not. We do not have nearly the number of visitors going through our wee International airports compared with the other major infected cities.
    - we are a country of two major islands which instantly creates some physical distancing across our whole population
    - We may think Auckland is a large city . It isn't. It is sprawling and does not have nearly the population density of other cities where this virus has spread.
    - We have pretty good primary health care services with "free" public health so we do not have a population with underlying health problems that are not being treated.
    - While we have an aging population, it is not yet that old. And most of them do not smoke and thus don't have the underlying respiratory problems.
    - we are not a "close physical contact" culture. We do not get really close to our friends, family and associates.

    That is all "pre-management"

    Once the first significant management step took place mid/late March (closing our borders to people other than Nz'ers), then things really started to improve - but that improvement was off an extremely low base of illness.

    I see my original post was 28 days ago. As expected there have only been 59 new cases and 13 of them are Nz'ers who have arrived in the country. The remaining are related to clusters. All quite foreseeable and nothing to do with luck
  • H&S Health Check
    For an SME who does not hold, nor needs to hold, any certification to standards (4801, 45001 etc) I'd just pull out the old NZ4801, the ACC Self Assessment resource. Keep it simple. It is weighted towards documentation rather than behavior but with a bit of sense its not hard to mix the two.

    We are entering austere times. A bit of frugality mixed with practicality can go a long way.
  • When is noise not a hazard?
    Short answer is no.

    Longer answer is "yes" under possible risks but later determined by measurement that there is no risk - so you close it off.

    Given there is no risk no need to do the hearing checks - unless you want to do it as a good employer "wellness" type of thing. People loose their hearing for lots of reasons not related to work. My NIHL is due to hunting and Motorhead:)

    Now back to the noise. And I'll use our plant as an example. We have some machines that exceed the Limit when all machines are working AND they are working on heavy gauge steel. One machine or lighter gauge its under the limit. As a matter of practice that immediate area is defined as a risk zone and hearing protection is required at all times. So Hearing checks are done.

    But walk about 10m away and the noise levels start to drop away quite dramatically. The further away you are the quieter it is. (People in those outer areas don't get hearing checks). That's why I have dozens of noise measurements around the whole plant - done in "worse case" scenarios. I have a picture of all the different noise zones and apply required protection in each zone. In "quiet" zones ear plugs are provided if chosen - not on health and safety grounds, just on noise comfort grounds and being a kind employer.
  • L3 Operating Safely
    The Health Order is now published. So here is a free Safety Plan for Category 3 businesses. (Its free so don't expect perfection. My normal consulting fee is in Red Wine currency)

    Essentially business as usual with no added paper work, processes, PPE, cleaning, etc required.

    It is well past the time for the absolute bollocks to stop.
    Covid-19-Pandemic-Plan Safeguard (715K)
  • L3 Operating Safely
    I got my Worksafe one in the mail yesterday.

    And I'll offer the same observation to that as I would this one. There still appears to be zero consideration to S6 of the Regs. And these documents are being produced left, right and center without knowing the contents of the next Public Health Order, which as I write has still not been done.

    That said, I did fill out my Worksafe one. But only for employee imagining purposes, not for safety management - we need to be seen to be doing the right thing for employees. Essentially each section was "business as usual" which is our usual serious approach to risks that are going to realistically harm people if we didn't manage them.

    I also attached the chart I have been producing, using Min of Health data so valid and reliable, which shows, essentially zero covid in the community and thus not about to enter my workplace. So I am taking a proportional response to a zero risk.

    I don't usually read Stuff but yesterday there was a Q&A with a lawyer who said, in response to a question
    This is a good question. An employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace for all employees, so if there was good reason to believe that someone was a risk to others, it would be reasonable to require them to remain away from work. But, in reality, because there is little evidence of community transmission, unless the person was known to have associated with someone with Covid, just breaching the rules is unlikely to be enough to really deem them a risk. If the employer sent them home in this instance, I think they would still need to pay them."

    I remain very comfortable with my approach
  • I've been thinking...........
    I agree
    And I lay part of the blame on the "zero harm" mentality.

    We seem to have entered a world where every risk (perceived or real) must be managed to the nth degree so that no one gets in the least bit hurt. And we create processes to support that position. This might be good for HS practitioners from a job creation perspective, but it surely can't be rewarding work.

    Worse yet is the herd mentality where inquisitive thought is no longer given to an issue. Instead we seem to prefer stuff that is just handed to us without question. And we meekly follow.

    Your "personal responsibility" comment is an interesting one. In the tsunami of Covid Alert 3 guidelines and protocols coming out I don't recall a bit that says "it is an employees responsibility to stay home and take appropriate action if they think they are a suspect case". Maybe its there but to be honest my eyes have glazed over after getting to page 2 of some of these documents.
  • Grant Nicholson on Covid-19 and the law
    And this: "• Section 34 of the Health and Safety at Work Act requires consultation, cooperation, and coordination of activities between duty holders. How are organisations planning to interact with customers and onsite and supply chain business partners to keep people safe? For example, what can be done to allow contact tracing by the Ministry of Health if there are COVID-19 flare ups in the future?"

    In the absence of a Public Health Order, what legal requirement is there for us to implement contact tracing?
  • Grant Nicholson on Covid-19 and the law
    I like this one "• Section 23 of the Health and Safety at Work Act talks about the role of cost, and whether it is grossly disproportionate to risk, in deciding what is reasonably practicable. Are some organisations going to consider the cost of additional controls and let it affect what they do when work re-starts?

    So far the prevention of our ability to attend our premises has probably cost well over M$10's. When is enough is enough
  • Grant Nicholson on Covid-19 and the law
    Grant. One of your questions "Section 30 of the Health and Safety at Work Act requires elimination of risks rather than just minimisation when that is reasonably practicable. Should organisations really be returning to work at alert level 3?"

    Our prime minister has given us her definition of "elimination " in the context of this virus. So it seems to me as long as we are prepared to not tolerate it we should be good to go.

    (I'd also point out, in my view, that these "levels" are a totally ridiculous notion in our worklplace safety context)
  • Grant Nicholson on Covid-19 and the law
    even <5

    Last 10 days (a generous incubation period) there has been an average of 4.5 a day. All related to a person in a cluster, an overseas traveler or one of the 8 unconnected people. So not just "In the absence of any evidence of significant community infection," but actually "In the absence of any evidence of ANY community infection"
  • Grant Nicholson on Covid-19 and the law
    Just as an aside can we do away with "social distancing". Its not. It is "physical distancing"
  • Grant Nicholson on Covid-19 and the law
    And some clarification between "feeling unsafe" and it factually being "unsafe"
  • I've been thinking...........
    Oops heres the chart
  • Covid: S5 Hazard Identification
    I am interested in , and perhaps a little perplexed by Chris's statement "The higher authority for a New Zealand workplace would be the Ministry of Health" This is an authority which relates to the Health Act Order that has basically closed our premises down and confines us to home. It does not otherwise stop our work..

    I thought our "higher authority" was Worksafe (MBIE) and the HSWA.

    How is it that we seem to have totally put the HSWA aside and seem to be coming up with all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas based on who knows what?

    Just because the Min of Health tells us to do something does not absolve us of our responsibility to manage our workplace under the conditions set out in the HSWA.

    I would go as far as saying as Safety professionals we are being negligent if we just simply roll over and submit to something other than that required by the HSWA
  • Covid: S5 Hazard Identification
    Heres some experts Chris.
    On 31 March an Otago University professor says 16,000 could die. Https://

    Its a follow up from an Auckland University professor who said 80,000 could die in NZ. Was never going to happen.

    On 26 March "Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has said it was possible cases could peak in 10 to 12 days and begin to fall from there." Never happened. Peak new cases was the day before on 25 March.


    Should cause us to think about where we get our expert advice from. (And I am not suggesting it is necessarily on these forums - but we should at least be prepared to think and question)