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New H&S law requires fine tuning: EMA

New H&S law requires fine tuning: EMA

Though business welcomes the new Health and Safety Reform Bill some parts of it are still unworkable or not appropriate to New Zealand's scale of businesses, Paul Jarvie told Parliament's Select Committee hearing today.

Mr Jarvie is Manager, Industrial Relations and Safety, for the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

"We have identified several ways to improve how the new law could be made to work better," Mr Jarvie said.

"We would like some definitions made clearer, and in other places the new law would greatly benefit from better guidelines.

"For example the responsibilities in multi PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) worksites is unclear and needs more work.

"The definition of the term 'persons making a decision that affects the whole or a substantial part of the business' requires clarification.

"The two year limitation on prosecutions is far too long and would introduce undue stress. We recommend retaining the current six month limit.

"While we totally accept the need for worker participation in health and safety matters the extent of the prescription required in the Bill at present for worker participation and representation is excessive. The State is in no position to regulate what a H&S rep should do in any particular workplace or how.

"We recommend the law clearly outlines the options of worker participation for its health and safety representatives, safety committees and other systems that have been agreed by workers as relevant to the size of their business and its risk profile.

"We strongly recommend the term 'workgroups' is more tightly defined.

"Judges hearing health and safety cases need to become more familiar with employment law and OH&S matters instead of at present where any district court judge can hear such cases.

"We note Australia, on whose law ours is based, is already carrying out a review after two and half years to make things simpler and practicable.

"We want our new law also to be kept as simple as possible and above all practicable."


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