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Posted on July 5, 2021
Written by general admin
The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) is part of a reform package aimed at addressing the increasing number of serious work-related injuries and deaths in New Zealand.
According to insurance advisors Rothbury, over 50 people die at work each year – almost one a week – in New Zealand, while hundreds of people are injured. It is estimated that 600-900 employees die from work-related diseases. These statistics have prompted the enactment of the HSWA.
As per the HWSA, landlords are now responsible for ensuring health and safety at rental properties.
By defining and establishing who is responsible for workplace health and safety, the HSWA has created a new class of people: the PCBUs (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking). PCBUs now carry the primary duty under the new law to ensure the health and safety of workers and others affected by the work it carries out.
As with all other workplace health and safety laws, the new act will be conducted and overseen by Worksafe New Zealand.
Examples of PCBUs:
“Landlords will be regarded as PCBUs and have a responsibility to ensure health and safety of workers they engage or who are influenced or directed by the PCBU while they are doing work for that PCBU ‘so far as is reasonably practicable… [at the end of the day, it is] about what the Landlord can reasonably do to manage health and safety.”
According to Worksafe, the primary duty of care is a broad overarching duty. It includes but is not limited to, so far as is reasonably practicable:
PCBUs must also maintain any worker accommodation that is owned or managed by the PCBU, and provided because other accommodation is not reasonably available. The accommodation must be maintained so the worker is not exposed to health and safety risks.
To give more clarity on the HSWA, Worksafe has provided a landlord case scenario:
“For example, if a landlord engages a plumbing firm to do repairs on a rental property, they have control over the engaging of that company. So they could set healthy and safety standards they expect of the company they hire (e.g. they have to be a member of a professional body, they have to be qualified for the job they have to have previous experience of doing this wok etc).
But once the plumbing company is on site the landlord will have little influence or control over their day to day work (unless there is some hazard on the property the plumber should know about). The risks created by the plumbing company on the job are up to them to manage.”
Although some of the HSWA is somewhat vague – you can read the full report here — what is fairly concrete under the HSWA is the setting of higher penalties and tougher prosecution under the Act.
Following the establishment of a breach having been committed, a three-tier penalties system kicks in:
Additionally, new orders may be imposed including:
Make sure to read up the HSWA. It pays to understand and know where you sit in this new health and safety landscape. Otherwise a simple, well-intended mistake can make you liable…