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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Define cooperation

Define cooperation
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New Zealand

One of the important HSW Act issues where greater clarity is needed is the concept of consultation between PCBUs, Stead said.

Under the new law s34 specifically requires PCBUs to consult, cooperate and coordinate their activities when they share a worksite, but as yet, she said, not only is there nothing to indicate what this means in practice, but WorkSafe does not seem to be using s34 in prosecutions.

“We are currently dealing with what is really a consultation issue, but WorkSafe is proceeding with a charge under s36, the primary duty under the act, even though the reasonably practicable steps that it alleges haven’t been taken involve informing contractors about hazards on site and consultation – exactly what s34 covers.”

The use of s36 potentially has a large impact for the defendant, she said, exposing it to a maximum penalty of $1.5 million, rather than the $100,000 maximum available under s34, and she wonders if WorkSafe has chosen to prosecute for a breach of the general duty because it wants a larger fine.

Stead said she is also concerned about how the obligation to consult will be applied in situations where there is a power imbalance between parties.

“If someone has a lot of financial capacity and a sophisticated safety management system, how do you force that onto smaller players who don’t have the resources to deal with it?

“Equally, if you’re a small player and you don’t think the big guys are playing by the rules, how do you go about dealing with that? How much can you force down the chain, or force back up?”

This issue is not new, she said, but the introduction of s34 has made it important to think about how it should be managed.

“In a perfect world everyone would get together in a room and we’d talk openly about all the issues, but we know that isn’t actually the case and that people are going to be a bit guarded about sharing safety information.”


People Mentioned:
Sarah-Lee Stead
Organisations Mentioned:
WorkSafe NZ
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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