Comments

  • H&S Committee
    Unless there is a special agreement with management, staff and unions that elected H&S reps will make up your health & safety committee. This would be highly unusual.Tony Walton
    The regs require that at least half of the H&S committee members must be workers representing the workers (and they have not been nominated by the organisation). It also clarifies that H&S Representatives are eligible to be a member of the committee.
    Given the H&S Representatives are generally workers who represent the workers (or workgroup) it seems common practice that they are members of the committee. The only stumbling points would be if the organisation is selecting (either overtly or covertly) the H&S representatives and not the workers, or if the H&S Representative is not a worker of the organisation itself (but the last one would only mean the H&S rep would count toward the required half of members).
  • H&S Committee
    The prescribed ratio in the Worker Engagement,... regs is 1 H&S Rep for every 19 workers (R6)
  • Health and Safety Meetings
    Is there a legal requirement to have H&S Meetings every month or can they be done every 2 months, we still hold the monthly team meeting that has an H&S component.Don Ramsay

    Technically the only legal requirement is to "have practices that provide reasonable opportunities for workers to participate effectively in improving work health and safety" (paraphrasing HSWA S61), and to engage with workers (S58) in the circumstances detailed in S60... but that is the bare minimum compliance. Formal (statutory defined) H&S representatives and H&S committees come from a request from the workers to have these in place (or the organisation electing to establish a committee).

    As others have said the statutory minimium (or maximum?) is 3 months between H&S Committee meetings. However this is usually a case where the better approach is for the processes for worker participation/engagement to be agreed on by all involved, and then run to those agreed terms. So if the workers are happy and agree with the H&S component of the monthly team meetings and the dedicated H&S Meeting every two months there should not be an issue. Best bet is to have a periodic review (e.g. annually) of the process as part of the H&S meeting to re-confirm that the process is working and everyone is still on board.
  • EROAD Rewards and accuracy
    Yes, but remember the expression'what can be measured, can be managed'Stephen Small

    Isn't the full quote from Drucker "What gets measured gets managed — even when it's pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organization to do so"

    Which couldn't your story be an example of a reason to not collect this data as if you don't have it, it cannot be used as evidence against you... if you were only considering statutory risks...
  • How to set HS metrics?
    So to set metrics, first decide what metrics are required after discussing with all affected stakeholders to determine where, when, why, who and how the metrics are related to each parties needs.KeithH
    completely agree with your comment Keith - with asking "what" / "why" being the most critical questions. The "what" being to understand where the organisation is currently (i.e. not jumping to what metrics are required):
    • what is currently working well, and why is it working well - to establish metrics to help maintain these aspects
    • what is not currently working well, what are the likely causes, and what could be done to change this - to help improve these aspects by establishing metrics to both confirm that planned actions are being done, and to verify that, if the planned actions are being done, they are having the intended/expected effect.
  • Ramset PAT Operator License expiry
    If you are meaning a Certificate of Competence for powder actuated tools the expiry date has to be included on the certificate (and be recorded in the register).
    Worksafe may specify the expiration period for the certificates, but I could not find any information that they (or OSH / DoL) have done so for PATs - even the ACoP just mentions the regulator can set when the certificates expire but doesn't include any specific period.
    Just for reference, my Ramset PAT CoC expires in 2028, and given I got it in 2005 that's 25 years!
  • Why Are We Still Killing Our Workers?
    And that's the rub that sees us nail more workers with either death or as bad, a serious accident that they either don't fully recover from, or spend a long time in recovery. I don't disagree that CMS charges may not be the answer to close that gap, but I am certain more/better enforcement will.Steve H
    My point regarding that was even if the NZ statistics were a sixth of what they are now, and less than those of countries we normally compare ourselves against, would we not still be asking the same question of why are we still killing our workers after each high profile death? I agree with your points that under the current regime we need to look at the levers that may shift the return on investment in "safety" towards a reduction in the total number of workers killed, and that may bring down our statistics to (directly) killing only (say for argument's sake) 20 workers a year as apposed to 68 per year. Which would be great that 48 workers didn't die because of work, but what about those remaining 20 - will it be ok to tell their families not to worry because at least 2 other workers didn't die as well? And when they ask why it was their family member, are we not back to the fact that the answers is "that's just the new accepted value for the human cost of doing business"? That unfortunately their loved one was the unfortunate one that fell on the wrong side of the return on investment (bottom line)?

    But also acknowledging the positive of not having to have that same conversation with those 48 other families - which is why you are right that we still need put in the effort in the short term (even if it is less effective) and not just push it off as we're never going to be good enough so why bother (trying to ward of anyone thinking I am advocating for a zero harm mentality?).

    Matt & Andrew's argument appears to be that we're already spending enough to cover off safety in the workplace, and that being the case it's acceptable to have collateral damage of 50- 60 workplace deaths, and 2200plus serious harm accidents each year (with the serious harm stats steadily growing)Steve H
    As @Andrew has said - no we are not saying this. But an interesting thought is that there are in fact some situations where injury (and even death) is accepted as a potential outcome of work, such as jobs in the military, police, or even healthcare. The common aspect to this "acceptance" is that the work is primarily considered as required for the benefit of our society as a whole, rather than for the profits of an individual. So what would it look like if all work was organised where maximising the benefit to society as a whole is the primary KPI used to allocate our resources?
  • Cycling to vs cycling at work
    I've looked up the accident rate and it's slightly higher per km for cyclists than drivers, and the likelihood of injury is greater.Garth Forsberg
    I am guessing that is all vehicle/cycle accidents? Be careful comparing aggregated data as the risks for riding a bike a short distance within the CBD is a completely different from commuting to/from work or long distance rides on open roads.

    If there is an accident while riding a bicycle on company time, would the riders vehicle third party insurance cover damage to any other vehicles or property.Garth Forsberg

    I would expect the company's public liability I surance would cover any damage done to other's property by an employee while on company business - best bet is to check with your insurer to confirm it's covered by your current policy or if the policy needs amending.
  • Why Are We Still Killing Our Workers?
    And would that change if company officers potentially could face Corporate Manslaughter charges?Steve H
    My opinion - I don't think so.
    Corporate Manslaughter legislation is likely to be too rare of an occurrence to cause any sort of real deterrent (i.e. "it will never happen to us" mentality), especially to the boards of the types of companies the laws are generally pitched at targeting. And in fact they could have potential negative (unintended) consequences if it drives business owners / boards even further towards a compliance mentality and to focus more on statutory risks rather than operational risks, i.e. focusing on limiting liability when an incident does occur rather than managing risks developing into an incident in the first place.

    One issue with a stronger "legislation is the answer" mindset is, in an economic system where resource allocation is based on maximising an allegory measure of "societal good" (i.e. the profit motive, GDP, continual economic growth, etc.), that no matter what additional consequences are put in place the final question will inevitably be "what is the return on investment?" (even if it is not specifically those words) - with regards to legislative safety requirements it becomes either "do we really have to do this?" or "what is the lowest compliance we can get away with?" because any resources not spent on those things can be seen to be put to "better use" elsewhere to either grow the business or provide better returns to the shareholders.
    And just to be clear this isn't a "corporations are greedy, unfeeling monsters" attitude, rather it's to call out that this is the system those businesses operate in - that if they don't make those hard decisions and continue to "improve" to ensure they stay profitable / grow, the inevitable is another business will out compete them by doing so. It is the reason why when answering the question of "what is reasonably practicable" so much of the effort is spent looking at what other companies (our competitors) are doing rather than what our company could do.

    Potentially it is a case that we have got as far as we reasonably can within the current paradigm - and that we should be more concerned that all western countries seem to have hit the "safety plateau", rather than that NZ's plateau is higher than any other country's. Leading to the question being more to consider what could be the next societal shift that will have a significant broad impact on safety?
  • Why Are We Still Killing Our Workers?
    How are the workers being killed?KeithH
    Because they do not have the resources they need for the work (time, tools, materials, training, supervision and mentoring, workers and spare capacity to allow time off without impacting others, etc.
    and, Why are workers being killed?
    Because our current economics system drives businesss to continously "improve" efficiency of work using financial profit maximisation as its main KPI.
  • Safety Shoes
    Some interesting approaches to providing PPE. Can someone please point me in the direction of the HSWA Regulations that say it is legal to ask employees to contribute (money) to providing PPE when PPE is required - Maybe I've missed itRobb
    I would say this is a case of a combination of a couple of regulations effectively allowing this situation to be legal:
    1. The worker has a duty under S45 to comply with the reasonable instruction to wear safety boots while working.
    2. Under R15 / R17 of the general workplace regulations the company must provide the worker with work boots while working, and that the work boots are of a suitable size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the worker.
    3. Under R16 the worker may choose to provide their own work boots if they do not want to use the company supplied ones.

    This leads to it being acceptable for a company to either offer a selection of (previously determined reasonably comfortable) work boots for the worker to choose from, or the option to purchase any work boots up to a certain limit (being a $ value that should allow the purchased comfortable work boots in any reasonable situation) - so this covers R15 / R17 for the company.
    If the worker wants to choose to wear another type of work boot that is outside of the above criteria they are free to supply their own (suitable) work boots under R16 (with no obligation for the company to cover any of the cost of these work boots as long as the decision to supply their own is genuine and made voluntarily).
    A lot of companies will cover the cost up until what they would have spent on the work boots if they had provided them as an act of goodwill (and potentially also as evidence that the worker's decision to supply their own work boots is in fact truly genuine and voluntary).
    It would be a rare case where a worker could claimed that they couldn't find a pair of comfortable work boots for the $200 that seems to be the common contribution, but as @Steve H mentioned there may be special cases where the work boots may need to be special ordered.
  • Where can I study health and safety law?
    In the case you cite, the beak sided with the driver, probably should have been appealed by the Police Traffic Prosecutor, but that's their call.Steve H
    I can't remember but I don't think the prosecution had any grounds to appeal - they can't appeal just because the don't like the judgement.
    Again from memory; They had would have had an open-and-shut case for speed in excess of the posted limit, but they pushed for a conviction of reckless driving based on the excessive speed. The defense was that the police by that stating the driving was reckless simply by the fact of the excessive speed alone did not met the requirement to "regard to all the circumstances" as required by section 7 of the Land Transport Act, and so had no case.
  • Where can I study health and safety law?
    My point is, even now, there are folk out there who will try and do less if they can get away with it, hence their question "is there a legal requirement for me to incur cost by having to do this"Steve H
    Prescriptive standards in H&S are good in theory, but in practice do they not tend to exacerbating the problem? Since:
    1. They are typically used more as a justification of the maximum effort required rather than the minimum standard accepted (this is exactly what you are saying, the pushback of "where does it say I have to do more than this?"), and
    2. They push the conversation to start off as an interpretation of those rules rather than starting at the actual risks needing to be managed.
    My point, since the prescriptive standards will never cover 100% of all cases, is they are only beneficial if your risk management process is "I have a risk to manage, what knowledge is there that I can apply to my situation, and where does that general knowledge end and I need to start considering this on a case by case basis", but they can quickly become a hinderance if your process is "I've just got to do what the book says"

    Back to using the speeding example - no judge would side with the driver if their argument was just "I think it's perfectly safe for me to drive at 100kmh through a normal 50kmh residential street" as there is no real additional considerations to that case than what is already covered in the "rule book". But they would have to consider it in a case like the reckless driving prosecution example above, or if the argument was "that it would be reasonable that the speed limit on the road should have been set higher due to the expert opinion of X, Y and Z who is sufficiently experienced in determining the appropriate speed limit for NZ roads" (the trouble is you will likely never get someone that is suitably qualified to be your expert witness and side with you in this case).

    Back to the original topic (or more correctly, back to the comment on the original topic) - if the purpose of the tertiary education is to provide training and evaluation to gain competency in H&S risk management, then as per Andrew's comment - what the law says, and how it works shouldn't even factor into it.

    But if its purpose is for competency to manage legal compliance, then the law and how it is applied definitely needs to taught... but then you are more legal council than H&S advisor/manager and probably should actually be doing a LLB rather than a H&S cert/diploma.

    [Special case is would be the statutory powers of a H&S Representative in the act - but that is why they need to complete the Unit Standard which covers those part of the act].

    In my opinion this is actually one of the biggest issues in the H&S profession - we are not clear on what the role is and who we are there to support (or when we are clear is is somewhat illogical). Most H&S coordinators are generally dealing with legal compliance issues (or in a lot of cases, issues that we incorrectly deem as legal compliance), H&S advisors are generally supporting the workers to manage risks and navigate through the company's various H&S processes, and H&S managers are supporting management to develop those H&S processes to [cynically] keep the company out of court. While we may think there is a clear career progression up the ladder from Coordinator to Advisor to Manager, I would bet that there is no other "profession" where the "focus" at each step through their professional development process changes so drastically.

    (Maybe this rant is better in the "Why are we still killing our workers" thread... but I already need to finish my "The answer is capitalism, just ask Rasmussen" post for that one.)

    And back to the original question - I would start with self-education using the court summaries. http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZHSE/ is a reasonable central database for information on past court summaries, most judges are good provide context around the reason for their decisions for convictions or sentences. Regarding the law, these interpretations can be much more critical to understand how the legislation is actually applied in practice rather than what is actually written in the Act and secondary legislation.
  • Where can I study health and safety law?
    Sadly, there are still dinosaurs out there who will ask "is there a legal requirement to do this or that", so personally I favour a prescriptive approach to a minimum standard, embellish all you want after achieving that..Steve H
    Normal answer to that is - "yes, but it is vague that you have to manage the risks of your work" and then turning the question back to them with some vein of "could someone potentially get hurt? And is there anything we could reasonably do now, that we would wish we would have done if they did end up getting hurt)?"
    I look at it this way, the road rules could say, do a H&S assessment and then drive at the speed that your assessment tells you you will arrive safely- not really going to work is it (although in the absence of traffic enforcement, that is what happens frequently)
    Except if you are equating it to the HSWA approach each driver would be expected to make that assessment based on the relevant knowledge available regarding the risks - which would include considering the available knowledge regarding their own vehicle safety, the safety of other potential vehicles on the road, the engineering of road design, weather patterns, the maintenance schedule for the road they are driving to assess current condition of the road, notifications of damage to the roads (fallen tress, slips, etc.), work scope of any construction of maintenance road works, etc.
    Most people would never be able to spend the time/effort to be proficient in evaluation all this information before driving - and this is the reason we have prescriptive speed limits on our roads. Any person can look at that red 80kmh sign and consider - someone (or more likely a team of someones) has taken all that relevant information for this road and used their expertise to determine a suitable speed which this road should be driven at... so essentially every driver right is making that "H&S assessment", it's just based on the most efficiently communicated information they have (the speed limit sign).
    Wasn't there a case last year were police prosecuted a driver for reckless driving because he was traveling at 100+ kmh through a speed limited (unattended) road works site, and the judge sided with the driver that it wasn't reckless because an assessment of the actual risk was determined to be low - from memory; the road he was driving on was in good condition and hadn't been disturbed by the road works and there was no road workers present that he could have injured - so essentially at that time the risk assessment was that he was essentially driving on the normal road in that area and so 100 kmh was a reasonable speed to travel at.
  • Cycling to vs cycling at work
    employee falls of and fractures wrist, cannot drive a car, and this car usage is his main task. Their HS was not even consultedJanene Magson
    To be honest - the issue isn't "H&S" wasn't consulted, it is that it seems that their procurement process doesn't include to identify and assess new types of equipment for risk prior to purchase and/or use.
  • Cycling to vs cycling at work
    We must keep reminding ourselves that we work in occupational health and safety :wink:
    They looked at the work being done my motorbike and deemed that to risky, they considered walking but time constraints were an issue (plus if they were using the mountain bike trails for access would it not be a risk of having a crazy mountain biker like the one you have had to deal with taking them out on a blind corner or the other side of a jump!).
    They considered what they could do to minimize the risk while riding - not screaming down the hill pulling off sick air! - and set the expectations for the work. Seemed like decent risk management to me - rather than calling the worker a risk based on a hobby they have outside of work and pulling the "can't do it cus of H&S" card.
  • Safety Shoes
    We do however get a percentage back in external training costs if they haven't been here longSarah Kay
    If that external training is required by the company to provide information/instruction for the safe use of tools/equipment/substances/etc. to do their work safely, I would expect that would also be covered under S27 and you should not be recovering any cost of that training if an employee leaves shortly after being trained.
    If it is skills/professional development training then nicely no issue, but S27 relates to "...anything done, or provided, in relation to health and safety", so would include safety training.
  • Cycling to vs cycling at work
    On a slight tangent / extension, I was recently asked to look into work methods to undertake environmental monitoring a a large forest area, with an extensive network of cycle trails. They were proposing using motorbikes or quad bikes and were concerned about being hit by mountain bikers! To do the work on foot would take in excess of 40hrs. It could be ridden in less than a day. The motorbike expert assessed the terrain as 'highly challenging requiring an expert level of skill'. The monitoring is being done by mtn bike. The requirements: any monitoring personnel must have undertaken a competency assessment from an SME, their bike must have been inspected / serviced by a suitably skilled person (bike mechanic) and they must keep their wheels on the ground. They love their work day (although I'm sure they'd love to jump a little more ;-).Matthew Bennett

    You entire post is a great illustration of what risk assessment should look like - it is not about stopping unsafe work from occurring, but about enabling work to be done safely.

    And your example at the end is right on the mark for this - including considering the match between the workers and the work. I am sure that there was at least a few moderately skilled recreational mountain bikers in the company eager to take on that work - and by setting the expectations around the work you are able to select the lowest risk method to complete the work.

    And also the point of thinking outside of just the risk to your worker, and consider the system as a whole. The fact that having any employee be made to drive a car (because the potential consequences of cycling are more serious in a car vs cyclist accident) actually exposes a significant greater number of people to that risk (other pedestrians / cyclists that the worker may now interact with in their car). So if you are considering the risk to everyone that (may) be affected by this choice, cycling may actually be the safe option.