UPDATE: 10 FEBRUARY 2017
Working near overhead electric power lines
Workers who operate horticultural mobile elevating work platforms (H/MEWPs) in orchards, or other horticulture workplaces, are at significant risk of accidental contact with overhead power lines.
WorkSafe NZ have released a fact sheet on the dangers of working near overhead power lines - farmers should note the ‘no go’ and ‘exclusion’ zones and incorporate the control measures into their own Risk Register where applicable.
UPDATE: 4 NOVEMBER 2016
Farm Company Fined
This media release from WorkSafe underlines the importance of ensuring you have a Farm Safety Management System in place on your farm. It also reinforces the message from the B+LNZ Farm Safety Workshops: to ensure that you have appropriate control measures in your risk register as part of your risk management process. It should also be noted that the company was prosecuted under the previous legislation and that the maximum penalties under the Health and Safety at Work Act are significantly higher.
UPDATE: 4 JULY 2016
Health risks in the workplace
Did you know: Workers in New Zealand are 10 times more likely to die from a work-related disease than from a work-related injury?
WorkSafe NZ recently published information on its website about health risks in the workforce – what they are and how to avoid contracting them.
A spike in leptospirosis
Following a recent spike in cases of leptospirosis in Northland, WorkSafe NZ has urged farmers to take care around animals and to vaccinate their livestock. Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease that can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, muscle pains and fevers. In severe cases, it causes bleeding from the lungs, meningitis or kidney failure.
UPDATE: 12 MAY 2016
Safety inductions matter
A Gisborne-based logging transport operator has been fined $80,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $100,000 in relation to the death of a contractor who was fatally run over during his first day on the job. The conviction is a stark reminder to farmers of their obligations to provide effective safety inductions to workers - employees and contractors alike. The prosecution fell under the old Act: the penalties available under the new HSWA are significantly stronger.
UPDATE: 15 MARCH 2016
Remember to report 'serious harm' occurrences
The recent conviction of a fruit and vegetable processor for six offences under the H&S in Employment Act is a timely reminder to notify WorkSafeNZ of occurrences of 'serious harm' (soon to be 'notifiable injuries’). As well as being convicted for three charges of failing to keep workers safe, the company was convicted on three charges of failing to notify WorkSafeNZ after employees suffered finger amputations.
UPDATE: 2 FEBRUARY 2016
New responsibilities under HSWA
On 4 April 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) comes into force. It brings new responsibilities for everyone in the workplace.
The new legislation introduces the concept of a 'Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking' (PCBU). PCBUs are in the best position to control risks to work health and safety, because they are the ones carrying out the business or undertaking. This is why the PCBU has the primary duty under the new law. Despite its name, a PCBU will usually be a business entity – for example, a farm company – rather than an individual person. However, a person might be a PCBU if they are a sole trader or a self-employed person. All PCBUs have a primary duty of care in relation to the health and safety of workers and others affected by the work carried out by the PCBU.
The new law also creates a new duty-holder called an ‘officer’. An officer is someone who makes decisions affecting the whole PCBU, or a substantial part of it. The types of roles likely to be officers are company directors, chief executives, partners in partnerships – so a farm manager may also be an officer of the PCBU. An officer of a PCBU must exercise due diligence to ensure the PCBU complies with any duty or obligation under the law.
The third duty holder under the new law is the ‘worker’. Workers include employees – but contractors, sub-contractors and work-related visitors like vets or bank managers are also workers. Essentially, if they are working on your farm they are a ‘worker’ under the new law. The new law makes it clear that any person at a workplace must take reasonable care of their own health and safety, comply with any reasonable instructions given by the PCBU, and take reasonable care that their actions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others.