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More Myths About The Health And Safety At Work Act 2015

More Myths about the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

“Health and Safety is just common sense”
If health and safety was really just common sense, and if common sense was really common, then we would not have the accident and death rates that we do. Good health and safety needs to be based on more than just common sense and good companies will manage risk by placing the same priority on health and safety as they do on other production decisions.

“I could lose my job if I report a health and safety issue or refuse to work because something is too risky”
No one can discriminate or take negative steps against you if you speak up about a workplace health and safety issue. In fact, it’s the law.

“It’s too risky to let kids climb trees while at school”
Kids have always climbed trees, and invariably some of them have fallen and hurt themselves. We doubt that will change any time soon. For quite some time now, the law has required schools to manage their risks, and WorkSafe hasn’t prosecuted them just because a child fell out of a tree. This isn’t expected to change under the new law either. Why not? Because it’s not reasonable to expect schools to stop kids being kids and taking low-level risks. What might be reasonable is to expect the school to make sure that they take down any trees or branches that are dead or rotting. Or that they prevent kids from climbing trees with limbs that extend out over a public road. But your average tree in a playing field? That’s not the sort of risk that WorkSafe New Zealand is interested in.
“You are liable if a recreational visitor has an incident on your farm”
All kinds of people come and go on farms all the time for various reasons. Employees, contractors, vets, and recreational visitors, such as hunters and trampers, can be on farmland at any given time. The new law makes it clear what is and isn’t a workplace on a farm and farmers have a duty to manage workplace risks in the following areas:

  • Farm buildings and immediate surrounding areas (whether or not work is going on at the time).
  • Other parts of the farm, where work is being carried out.

The law is quite clear – the farmhouse is not a workplace. If a recreational visitor crosses an area of the farm being used for work purposes, then farmers are responsible for their health and safety. If they cross an area of the farm which is not being used for work purposes, and is not close to the buildings on the farm, then farmers shouldn’t need to take any action in relation to that person. The only exception might be where farm work has recently been carried out and a hazard still existed e.g., recent spraying of hazardous chemicals. In these situations you need to work out how you would reasonably communicate and manage this for visitors and others.

“Under the new law, a business can refuse to employ someone with a disability on the basis it’s too risky”
There is nothing in the new law that says you can distinguish between workers, whether they have a disability or not. What the law does say is that businesses must do whatever is reasonable to ensure the health and safety of their workers and that other people are not put at risk by its work. The law must not be used as a means to discriminate against workers with disabilities.

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse” Jim Rohn

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking” Henry Ford

 Source: Bedrock Solutions Newsletter          August 2016

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