Health & Safety Reform Bill 2014 – A Warning For All Businesses

POSTED BY Ben Morrison

22 July 2014

posted in Business | Legislation | Health and Safety

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The Health and Safety Reform Bill 2014 (Bill) (which is set to replace the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992) is set to bring about wide spread changes to health and safety in the workplace as we know it, and now is the time for businesses to work on compliance with the new rules.

The main purpose of the Bill is to provide a balanced framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces. It looks to achieve this by:

  • imposing greater obligations on company directors and managers to manage risks and keep workers safe, and backing such obligations with and high fines and even prison for such individuals who fail to comply
  • requiring greater participation by workers in health and safety in the workplace
  • establishing more and clearer offences, and stronger penalties, enforcement tools, and court powers

Who will be caught by the Bill?
The Bill will impose duties on:

  • Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) - which will include employers; those who manage or control a workplace; a person who manages or controls fixtures, fittings or plant at a workplace; a designer, importer or supplier of plant, substances or structures; and an installer, constructor or person who commissions plant or structures
  • company officers and managers
  • workers

What are the key duties under the Bill?

PCBU’s will have a specific duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers employed or engaged by the PCBU and workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the PCBU. PCBUs must additionally ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other people is not put at risk.

Company officers and managers will have duties to exercise due diligence to ensure PCBUs comply with their obligations, ensure that safety is managed as required by the provisions of the Bill, and particularly to maintain an up to date knowledge of health and safety matters in the workplace.

Workers will have duties to take reasonable care to ensure their own health and safety and the health and safety of others in the workplace and to comply with reasonable instructions, policies or procedures given by a PCBU. Other persons in workplaces, such as visitors, will have similar duties.

Offences and penalties
New offences and penalties will be introduced for breach of the duties specified in the Bill. The maximum penalties will be:

  • a fine not exceeding $300,000 and / or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, for individuals who are not a PCBU or a PCBU’s officer
  • a fine not exceeding $600,000 and / or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, for a PCBU or an officer of a PCBU
  • a fine not exceeding $3 million for any other person (such as a corporate body).

Don’t delay. Not only should businesses look now to ensure their health and safety practices are compliant but also individuals, particularly directors and senior managers, should be coming to grips with their personal obligations as failure to do so may have disastrous consequences.

For more information contact Ben Morrison or Amy Tiatia

POSTED BY Ben Morrison

22 July 2014

posted in BusinessLegislationHealth and Safety

VIEWED 6609 TIMES

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