A couple of weeks ago, while most of the country was avidly following a yacht race in Bermuda, a new piece of legislation snuck into law without too many people noticing.
The Health and Safety Act 2015 came into place last April, assisted by the newly formed Worksafe New Zealand. But the new Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 were signed off by the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy on the 26th June, the penultimate day of America’s Cup sailing. Most of the new legislation won’t come into effect until December this year.
Thankfully there aren’t a lot of new regulations to get your head around. Most of the legislation has been carried across from the Hazardous Substances legislation of 20 years ago. But the Government organisation managing these hazardous substances also changes, with the Environmental Protection Authority passing responsibility to Worksafe. All very exciting, we hear you say, but what’s it mean for the average punter? Well buggar all, actually, so long as you were complying with the old legislation (if you understood them).
Hazardous substances is just a fancy title for things that can go bang, burn you, irritant you, or have a nasty effect on the environment. The hazardous substance of most importance to us at Upper Hutt Hire is standard 91 Octane Petrol, but there are a few others chemicals we also need to consider, especially in our workshop. The good thing is that it reduces the number of regulators by one, so you’ll now only need to deal with Worksafe instead of Worksafe and the EPA. Hopefully the legislation is also a little easier to understand.
Most of the changes for us will involve storage of hazardous substances (ie petrol), and how they are transported and stored. At first glance we think we are pretty much compliant, but there are a few improvements we’ll be working on in the next few months.
Perhaps of more interest is that Worksafe are now policing the new regulations, and while they have been proactive in the education of H&S responsibilities, we have now doubt they’ll be prepared to prosecute any company who suffers a serious injury as a result of a disobeying the law.
If you have a worksite that has reasonable quantities of hazardous substances on site you might want to check out the Worksafe website at http://www.worksafe.govt.nz/worksafe/news/releases/2017/keeping-workers-safe-around-hazardous-substances or chat with one of the Dangerous Goods consultants in the region.