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Sir Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop Resignation

Sir Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop Resignation a Result of Misinformation?

Sir Peter Jackson’s reported resignation as a Weta Workshop director because of new health and safety laws comes as a surprise.

Dunedin-based health and safety expert, Graham Roper, says the scare tactics being used by some sections of the health and safety industry are “unhelpful and do not ensure more people leave work at the end of their day unharmed – which is the overall intention of the new legislation.”

The media has reported that Sir Peter and fellow director Oscar winner Jamie Selkirk both stepped down from their directorships because “the new legislation would make directors personally liable for health and safety,” according to the Institute of Directors.

Graham Roper says, “The reality is if all company directors, including the 80-percent of New Zealand businesses that are small to medium-sized enterprises, acted on the same advice the economy would implode.”

He says that company directors certainly have a duty, as do their staff, to have practical processes in place so that all “reasonably practicable steps are taken” to aim for a culture of zero harm.

The only company directors who have anything to fear are those who think, just like tax, it’s not their problem and attempt to pay someone else to accept their responsibilities.

Roper, himself a director of NZ Safety Brokers New Zealand Ltd, says, “Company directors are ultimately responsible, and personably liable, only if they fail to monitor and ensure the financial and tax aspects of their businesses are property conducted; health and safety is not much different.”

He says practicable, common-sense processes, supported by informed health and safety providers, have significant impact in achieving zero-harm objectives.

“Informed safety providers are those who ultimately understand the intent of the Act and are not bound by the old thinking that influenced such tragedies as Pike River.

“A Health and Safety manual or other health and safety documents that just sit on a shelf are no more than simply documents of intent.

“Without active implementation and awareness of those documents and processes more tragedies are likely to occur and those who lead the PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) will have no defence by saying ‘I intended to do it’.”

“The implementation of a zero-harm strategy only succeeds when all parties are actively invested in the outcomes,” Roper says.

“These must be led and seen to be led by the head of the company stating and implementing strategies which say, ‘I value you as part of our business and therefore want you to be as safe as reasonably practicable while at work’.

“The message from directors needs to be, ‘I am committed to doing all that is reasonably practicable to provide a safe workplace’. By resigning due to perceived new onerous health and safety obligations a director may be missing the opportunity to reinforce to their business that the welfare of their staff is their paramount concern."

The new Health and Safety Act comes into force in April this year.


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