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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Hang the expense

Hang the expense
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New Zealand

Citing cost as a reason for not fixing an identified health and safety risk will be unlikely to get you off the hook in court under the new legislation due in 2015.

Speaking at OHSIG, Kensington Swan partner Grant Nicholson said the new statute's "reasonably practicable" sounds similar to the HSE Act's "all practicable steps" but with a key difference: not taking a reasonably practicable step would only be acceptable if the cost of doing so would be grossly disproportionate.

"There will be very few costs that will be grossly disproportionate to the risk of killing someone. If something costs a few thousand dollars you will have to do it."

This could have unintended consequences, he warned. A business, perhaps with the assistance of a consultant, could conduct a risk assessment and identify a list of things to be fixed, and then put the list in order of priority. However, if someone loses a finger to one of the lower-ranked risks not yet attended to, the fact the business has already made some changes for the higher priorities would cut little ice in court.

His advice? "Reassess all your hazard controls and assessments, and put cost at the bottom of your list, not the top."

Nicholson also predicted the new legislation would see more prosecutions taken against workers, because of two new duties: to comply with reasonable instructions from a PCBU, and to cooperate with health and safety policies and procedures.

"That's a good thing, as it should help you with developing a culture of responsibility."


People Mentioned:
Grant Nicholson
Organisations Mentioned:
Kensington Swan
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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