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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Timing of new law uncertain

Timing of new law uncertain
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New Zealand

The return of a National-led government is no guarantee that the Health and Safety Reform Bill will be enacted on April 1, as originally intended, according to MBIE's principal policy advisor.

Kelly Hanson-White, who is advising Cabinet about the regulations that will accompany the new statute, told the Business Leaders' Health and Safety Forum's OHS leadership group in Auckland recently that, because of the many factors that influence the legislative process, it was not possible to say when the bill would become law.

"There is quite a bit of pressure on the government to meet the April 1 date, but the progress of the bill is up to the Speaker of the House and depends on what the [government's] priorities are. There are still so many uncertainties, even though the legislation has pretty much cross-party support."

Before the House rose for the election, Hanson-White said the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee had heard about half of the 100 submissions on the bill, and the decision was yet to be made about how the remaining submissions would be handled.

"They could go back and start hearing the other fifty submissions, but if they do that as part of their regular business - meeting once a week when the House is sitting - it could take quite some time. They could use a different process that will speed things up, but that's entirely out of our control."

However, according to many of the submissions received, the most critical issue of timing associated with the new law will be the interval between when it is passed and when it comes into effect, she said.

"We had a lot of feedback saying what they really needed to know was how much time there would be after the act was passed before it became law. The plan is for the whole thing to come into force at the same time, but the central thing will be that gap."

The act's regulations must be approved by Cabinet, and Hanson-White's team is currently developing draft regulations in five subject areas - general risk and worker management, worker participation and representation, hazardous substances, major hazard facilities, and asbestos.

"We had another 180 submissions on these matters, including some very detailed and extensive ones, which was really excellent. We've pretty much heard from every industry, and from a good range of business sizes, all around the country, so it's been a very useful process."

Along with these submissions, the team is in constant consultation with Safe Work Australia, and has recently been meeting with WorkSafe's guidance group, a team of practitioners and industry experts, to ensure regulations that will be both workable and effective.

"We have to be able to quantify the impact of the [law] changes and know what will happen on the ground, so we try to imagine scenarios that will not fit the regulations. We have a suite of case studies that look like real businesses, and we use those to try to break our own recommendations."

The team hopes to present its recommendations to Cabinet before Christmas.

People Mentioned:
Kelly Hanson-White
Organisations Mentioned:
WorkSafe NZ
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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