Who’s problem is asbestos?

Earlier this month a construction site next to an Auckland kindergarten was closed down by WorkSafe New Zealand. Sadly, even in 2016 there are still sites that have not identified or properly managed asbestos risk. Not only is this a serious health risk to site workers and neighbouring land occupiers, untimely discovery of asbestos can have costly implications to both the contractors and the land owner.

In fact, whether making building alterations or going through the process of demolition, the punitive powers now available to WorkSafe spread right through the project team. It is important that everybody in the wider construction and related industries review and understand how the new legislation affects them.

The new Health and Safety at Work Act came into force on the 4th of April. This means that all parties in a project design team now have a legal duty of care that due diligence is being undertaken and the risks properly managed.

The Act’s key emphasis is on everyone in the workplace being responsible for health and safety. The Act works to focus effort on what matters, based on business risk, control and size:

  • It reinforces proportionality – what a business needs to do depends on its level of risk and what it can control
  • It shifts from hazard spotting to managing critical risks – actions that reduce workplace harm rather than trivial hazards
  • It introduces the “reasonably practicable” concept – focusing attention on what’s reasonable for a business to do
  • It changes the focus from the physical workplace to the conduct of work – what the business actually does and so what it can control
  • It supports more effective worker engagement and participation – promoting flexibility to suit business size and need.

Go to the MBIE website to learn more about Health & Safety reform.

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