Time flies – are your health and safety policies up to date?
The Health and Safety Act 2015 has been in force for over three years and the time is ripe for organisations to tighten up their health and safety processes. Here are a few examples of issues we’ve seen:
- reports of first aid certificates expiring with no plan to renew them; and work sites ending up with an insufficient number of first aiders due to staff turnover.
- training processes not reflecting the current workplace emergency plans; and emergency plans failing to address all emergency situations relevant to the workplace (for example, lock down procedures).
- organisations not meeting their obligation to make reasonable efforts to achieve a timely, final, and effective resolution of health and safety issues which arise at the workplace. Some people reported being dissatisfied with how long it was taking to resolve issues they had reported. On the other hand, managers reported that they were prevented from responding quickly due to workload and funding constraints.
What is your organisation doing to ensure these key policies are kept up to date and that people have the resources they need to implement them effectively?
Nanny cam – what are your contractors up to?
Another key theme in 2019 was the use of contractors and the difficulties of monitoring contractor behaviour. Ask yourself:
- Who are our contractors and what types of jobs are they completing?
- Who within our organisation is responsible for overseeing contractor work?
- Have we addressed these specific areas:
- hazardous substances – what systems are contractors using to ensure these are handled safely?
- asbestos-related work – what do you expect contractors to do if they encounter asbestos on site?
- resource consents – are your contractors aware of any special conditions which apply at the work site?
If you’re unsure about any of these, it may be time to review your processes to avoid being caught off-guard by an unpleasant surprise.
NZ businesses have a duty to keep all workers safe, including contractors – don’t be left in the dark when it comes to contracted work.
All hands on deck – getting your directors on board with compliance
This year we’ve seen an unprecedented number of customers elect to include directors in their legal compliance surveys. We’ve also received an increased number of enquiries from organisations being pushed by their boards to put a legal compliance programme in place – legal compliance has clearly been top-of-mind for many directors in 2019.
Here are the some of the issues we’ve seen reported by directors this year:
- being unaware of the obligation that a person must not be appointed a director unless they have consented in writing, and certified that they are not disqualified from being appointed or holding office as a director.
- being unaware of the obligation that directors who vote in favour of providing insurance for another director or for an employee must sign a certificate stating that, in their opinion, the cost of the insurance is fair to the company.
- being unclear about the extent of their duties as “officers” under the Health and Safety at Work Act, including the obligation to take reasonable steps to gain an understanding of the nature of the organisation’s operations and generally of the associated hazards and risks.
There is no extra cost to include directors in your next ComplyWith survey – all that’s required is to set them up with user accounts and assign them the relevant legal obligations. Get in touch if you need a refresher on how to do this – or wait for our brand-new Admin Module, which will make setting up surveys for new users as easy as the click of a button.
Other compliance hotspots in 2019
Here’s a quick round-up of other trends we’ve seen this year:
- Personal information must not be kept for longer than required: We’re seeing that many organisations don’t have a set process for deleting personal information (including information about former employees or job applicants).
- Organisations are still struggling with the obligation to have at least one privacy officer (continuing a trend we saw in 2018). The Privacy Commissioner has more to say about this here – including a link to free online training.
- Employees must be given the required rest and meal breaks. For example, an employee who works between 6 to 7 hours must be given at least two 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute meal break. Drivers of certain vehicles have special requirements – for example, they should have at least 10 hours of continuous rest time per work day.
- All employment agreements must contain a provision stating that the employee will be paid at least time and a half on a public holiday. We’ve seen a few reports that this clause is missing in standard employment agreements. Is it time to check yours?
- A surprising number of customers reported that they had incorrectly over-claimed on GST this year. This can be an expensive mistake if left undetected for long periods of time – in one case costing the organisation over $100,000.