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EPA welcomes the formation of WorkSafe NZ

19 December 2013

EPA welcomes the formation of WorkSafe NZ

EPA Chairperson, Kerry Prendergast, welcomes the formation of WorkSafe New Zealand. She says: “WorkSafe New Zealand was created with a focus on reducing harm to people in the workplace. Its vision is to ensure that everyone who goes to work comes home healthy and safe.“

WorkSafe New Zealand, the new workplace health and safety regulator, started operating on 16 December 2013. The health and safety functions of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (and previously the Department of Labour) have moved to this new agency. WorkSafe was created following recommendations of both the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy and the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety. Its focus is on workplace health and safety matters and improving New Zealand’s performance in this area. You can read more about their work here:

WorkSafe NZ website

Hazardous substance reform

Changes are proposed to the way hazardous substances are managed in New Zealand.

A Health and Safety Reform Bill is being drafted to replace the existing Health and Safety in Employment Act and make changes to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. We expect the Bill to be introduced to Parliament in February 2014 and be available for public submissions soon after.

Part of the reform is to move the management of hazardous substances in the workplace from the EPA under the HSNO Act to WorkSafe under a new Health and Safety at Work Act. Oversight of the test certification regime will also move to WorkSafe. Having all workplace requirements under one Act, managed by one regulator, is expected to make it easier for users to know what they are required to do to reduce harm from hazardous substances.

The way workplace hazardous substances will be managed in future will be outlined in regulations under that Act. The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment is preparing a discussion document that details the content of those new regulations. The document is expected to be available for public comment in the first quarter of 2014, with the aim that the regulations take effect in April 2015.

The EPA will continue to receive applications and make decisions on whether or not to approve a hazardous substance for use in New Zealand under the HSNO Act. It will continue to set controls to manage the environmental effects of a hazardous substance, regardless of where that substance is used. It will also continue to apply controls to prevent harm to people in non-workplace situations such as in the home.

The EPA will take on a new enforcement function to ensure that importers and manufacturers of hazardous substances meet their obligations for such things as labelling, packaging and supplying accurate safety data sheets.

We expect WorkSafe to be responsible for the test certification regime from July 2014, although there are still details to work through. We also expect there to be changes to test certification from April 2015, such as WorkSafe being able to employ or contract its own test certifiers, set mandatory performance standards for test certifiers, and mandatorily audit test certifier compliance with performance standards.

ENDS

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