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Health & safety deadline for employers

10 October 2003 Media Statement

Health & safety deadline for employers

Labour Minister Margaret Wilson today reminded the country’s employers they have until early November to put in place employee participation systems in their workplaces.

Under amendments to the Health and Safety in Employment Act, which came into force in May this year, all employers must provide reasonable opportunities for their employees to participate effectively in ongoing processes for the improvement of health and safety in the workplace.

For employers of more than 30 people this means they must develop a formal employee participation system as must any employer who is requested to do so by a staff member or union representing them.

“Employee participation is vital if we are to improve our workplace health and safety,” Margaret Wilson said. “We will only get real change when everyone in our workplaces takes ownership of health and safety responsibilities.

“It is only common sense that the people carrying out the work, those facing health and safety issues in practice, have a very real and valuable contribution to make. “

Margaret Wilson said when it comes to employee participation systems one size does not fit all.

“Employer and employees must develop a system in their particular workplace which manages health and safety in ways that makes sense to them and is effective.

“The Act gives some examples of what could be included such as electing health and safety representatives, and deciding whether they should act individually or as part of a health and safety committee or developing processes for ensuring regular and co-operative interaction between employers and employees on health and safety issues. “

Workplaces experiencing difficulty agreeing on an employee participation system should approach the Department of Labour’s Employment Relations Service for free assistance, Margaret Wilson said. Call Workinfo on 0800 20 90 20 or visit www.workinfo.govt.nz for this assistance.

ENDS

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