Health and safety reform - increased obligations for directors and managers

September 03 2014

The Health and Safety Reform Bill 2014 (which will replace the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and is expected to come into force sometime in 2015) will place significant obligations on company directors and managers to manage risks and keep workers safe. These obligations are to be backed with increased fines, and even prison, for people who fail to comply.

In its present form the Bill imposes a positive ‘due diligence duty’ on ‘officers’ of a ‘PCBU’ (being a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’). ‘Officers’ will include people who:

  • Occupy the position of a director of the company (by whatever name called), and
  • Make decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of the business of a PCBU.

If you are an ‘officer’ of a PCBU, practically speaking, at a minimum this positive duty will mean that you must have access to, and read, information about your organisation’s health and safety systems and processes, health and safety committees and audit reports, to ensure those health and safety systems, processes and resources remain appropriate and relevant.

Now is a good time for you to prepare yourself for these upcoming reforms and ensure as far as possible you take steps to mitigate your personal risk.

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