Worksafe – New Changes to Health and Safety

Background Leading to Changes in the New Act

Too many people are being harmed and killed in and around New Zealand workplaces. It is recognised that every person in New Zealand should be able to go to work with the expectation of coming home again safely. Work-related fatalities and serious injuries have high social, financial, and personal costs. Direct costs, such as employers’ short-term production disturbance costs and human capital costs of fatal injuries, were conservatively estimated at approximately $3.5 billion each year, equal to approximately 2% of GDP.  Furthermore, New Zealand’s serious injury, fatality and occupational disease rates are unacceptably high and are not showing significant improvement. Other countries including Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom are showing steady decreases in their rates.

As a consequence, to the ongoing physical harm, poor health and safety performance combined with the financial cost the NZ Government was motivated to launch an independent taskforce to look at reforming the workplace health and safety practices. The taskforce identified systemic problems with New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system. The focus of recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety aimed at achieving the Government’s target of a 25 percent reduction in serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace by 2020

It was recognised that driving remains the most hazardous activity New Zealanders undertake during their working day.

The results from the taskforce and other papers submitted to Government brought about new changes that came into effect in April 2016.

New Changes to Worksafe NZ

The Health and Safety Reform Bill has passed and the new law (the Health and Safety at Work Act) came into force 4 April 2016.

WorkSafe has already been established as a new independent Crown entity to regulate workplace health and safety. It replaces the role formerly undertaken by OSH, the Department of Labour, and the Labour Group of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. The Government has given WorkSafe the ambitious target of reducing workplace fatalities and serious injuries by at least 25% by 2020.

The Act is part of “Working Safer: a blueprint for health and safety at work” and reforms New Zealand’s health and safety system following the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety.

Working Safer is aimed at reducing New Zealand’s workplace injury and death toll by 25 per cent by 2020. It will require leadership and action from business, workers and Government to achieve this goal. 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.

The changes will mean:

  • Increased duties on both businesses and individuals.
  • Tougher penalties, both fines and jail-time.
  • A more proactive, better funded regulator

What Does This Look Like for Organisations with Vehicles

In NZ, there are as many vehicles on the roads as people which exceeds 4.5 million a large proportion of these are used as tool of the trade vehicles or in other relevant business related activities, approximately up to 70% of all new vehicles sold in the passenger and light commercial vehicle sector is for business use which demonstrates the high capacity of our vehicle fleet used for business purposes.

It may be obvious but an organisation from whatever sector of industry has a requirement to conform to the new legislation weather they have 1 or 100 vehicles. It’s been recognised that vehicles play are huge part of workplace accidents which bring harm to the employee and their families and the related cost to organisations in terms of lost productivity and the huge financial burden on Government and the taxpayer.

Due to the high percentage of work place accidents involving vehicles we expect that WorkSafe will pay greater attention to vehicle safety compliance than in the past. Vehicle are a place of place of business and as such you are required to put in all practicable steps to ensure the safety of the occupant.

Organisations whom have a vehicle policy that state they are not responsible for employees braking the law in areas such as speeding simply will not cut it. By not introducing all practicable steps you are allowing the employee to endanger their life, the public’s and also brings the employer into disrepute and opens them up to a range of serious offences. There is now an emphasis of responsibility on the employee and the employer – the whole chain of command. From the PCBU (Person Conducting a Business Undertaking) right through to the individual.

The extent and likelihood of personal criminal liability depends on an individual’s role. Liability increases for the most senior business leaders who will have explicit duties under the reform as “officers

The new act will also be enforced with radically increased penalties as follows:

Enforcement ActionUninsurable CostsCriminal RecordAdditional Insurable Costs
Business Prosecution (PCBU)Max fine $3MYesYes – Unlimited
Personal Prosecution (Officer)Max Fine $600,000YesYes – Unlimited
Personal Prosecution (Worker)Max Fine $300,000YesYes – Unlimited
Other Enforcement ActionsVariableVariableYes- Loss of Income

How does Cartrack GPS Fleet Management Help?

A Cartrack GPS Fleet Management system is able to monitor and measure your mobile employees while they are out in the field and help you manage and mitigate the new requirements under the act. We are able to effectively measure what your fleet is doing anytime anywhere as well giving you complete visibility of your people.

The information gathered will help you implement and monitor your employees around all aspects of driver behavior and vehicle location in real time while giving you alerts and reports for an immediate response for future training purposes.

In the past, some NZ companies have opted not to utilise the benefits of a GPS Fleet Management in the Fleet sense whilst at the same time giving no thought to the Health and Safety reasons.

Organisations with fleets have given no thought into the health and safety aspect when considering a GPS system for reasons like “we’ve never had any major injuries or deaths” or it’s too expensive, or we only have a small amount of vehicles” However, it’s important to remember that often the cost of such a system can be paid off in just the savings in fuel consumption.

This information will help you implement and monitor workforce safety policies, tracking employee behavior and vehicle conditions in real time to minimise risk. Setting fleet safety policies is no longer enough. The HSW Act will insist businesses proactively manage compliance with these policies and provide all practicable steps and measures to avoid incidents.

Driver Behavior Alerts
Our GPS devices capture every event. These events are classified into categories of:

  • Speeding
  • Harsh Braking
  • Harsh Cornering
  • Acceleration

Cartrack technology offers comprehensive monitoring of speed, hard braking, cornering and acceleration. Every trip of every vehicle is recorded and in the case of a speed event this will display within the trip as an event.

An alert can be generated and sent via text or email. The alert shows the total speed driven against the legal road speed limit. This gives a Manager, in real time, the ability to take immediate action if deemed unsafe.

All these events are stored within the trip information of every vehicle and each trip can be easily viewed on our Fleet pages by either selecting individual vehicles or the whole fleet. The operator is able access this information immediately. Set speed limits can be created for individual’s vehicles or groups of vehicles with alerts and reports for transgressions of these limits.

Speed Reports
The below is an example demonstrating each event of our driver score cards. This section brings special attention to an area relating to speed offences above the speed limit. Each offence is categorised showing offences either 10, 20 or 30 km over the road speed limit and the amount of indiscretions.

Driver Score Cards
Customers are able to automate driver score card reports which show how each driver ranks against the fleet. Each driver is allocated a number of points per day and points are deducted for each discretion.

The results are then totalled to give you a score for each driver. Using this information, you can identify which drivers need attention in the highlighted areas. This is also a way to reward good drivers. We find when implemented correctly drivers get right behind it and see it for what is designed to do – keep them safe.

These reports can be configured and automated from 1 day to 1 month.

The Other Effects of Speed and Harsh Driving

Speed: In addition to driver safety a consequence of speed has a massive impact on fuel consumption, the example above shows 576 speed events over 10km over the road speed limit, 124 over 20km over and 124 over the 30km over the road speed and this is only over a two-week period with 8 vehicles travelling a modest distance.

When this is managed from a speed perspective and the number of incidences drops it has a drastic effect on the fuel used.

Idle Time: This is an area which is out of site and out of mind but can represent some serious savings across the fleet when managed. Our reporting can capture excessive idle times. Our units are totally configurable and are factory set to a specified limit.  Should a vehicle idle for more than this time our specalised report will show this and can be managed to within acceptable guideline. It’s not uncommon for fleets to have total idle times exceeding 5% and the consequences of reducing this to 2-3% have a great effect on the bottom line.

Harsh Driving: We may all think we are good drivers but harsh braking, cornering, acceleration and cornering can lead to massive increases in repair and maintenance in a vehicle fleet. From brake discs and pads, suspension components and general wear and tear, this all has a major effect on increased fleet costs. When this area is managed, it will bring your fleet costs down.

Monitoring Driver Fatigue

An important factor to remember is that a tired driver is 25% more likely to have an accident without sufficient rest. The subject of continuous driving times need to be addressed and implemented into an organisations driving policy with clear guidelines.

In the event of an accident organistaions around the world similar to Worksafe are now looking at factors that relate to the lead up of an accident. An example of this are drivers driving for too long without having sufficient rest periods. Or the case of a sales rep driving for a long period of time then arriving at the accommodation staying overnight and then getting up very early to complete a road trip to visit a client. Three hours into the trip there is an accident and the employee notes that they were fatigued due to arriving late and having to get up early to meet the demands of the employer. In these types of cases the employer has a responsibility to ensure the employee does not breach the recognised requirements of safe practices. Areas including things like trip planning with arrival times with sufficient time for rest periods either on the trip or overnight.

Geo-Fence Warnings

This is an area that can have a wide range of applications. For driver safety accident hot spots can be geo-fenced with alerts being sent for reminder – a great way to reinforce the emphasis on fleet safety.

Accident Notification

Cartrack is able to provide alerts for accident and roll overs, our devices are configured to measure impact via inertia so should a vehicle be involved in an accident which is deemed serious our configurable alerts will send out an immediate warning for follow up. Upon receiving an alert, we suggest a process is built into the vehicle policy manual. Should you not be able to reach the employee via cellphone our GPS technology will be able to give you an exact location of the vehicle for you to decide to the next step.

Panic Button / Lone Worker

Within our customised options we offer a panic button. At the press of a button a silent alert gets sent via our GPS/GPRS technology to our 24/7/365 control room where an operator will respond. If the operator cannot reach the occupant, we continue to call a number of other contacts within the organisation that we set up when the account was opened.  Upon receiving the panic alerts our operators task is to make contact to find out the issue and direct this to the right person within the organisation for further action.

Accident Re-Enactment

In the event of an accident and you are in dispute with the other party our technology is able to show you via real time tracking your location on the road, your speed, trajectory, braking and time, this can be overlaid on a map and provide evidence to support your claims

Company Vehicle Policy Summary

An effective policy should contain a number of factors implementing a wide range of subject matter. Not just from the requirements of the tool of trade vehicles that the employee can select from or the standard rules and regulations contained in a broad manner within clear guide lines of the company and its protocols but special attention to areas such as:

Specialist areas of driver safety including trip management, continuous driving hours and the full suite of the whole spectrum needs to be itemised

Proactive areas should be given some thought around things like driver safety courses

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment

The Decision of Minutes from Cabinet and the Key Points to Consider The Bill should adopt the Australian Model Work Health and Safety Act (the Model Law), with such adaptations as are necessary or desirable to:

  • Take account of differences in the New Zealand context, including the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, the Accident Compensation Act 2001, the Employment Relations Act 2000, search and surveillance regimes, different criminal regimes, and other matters including differences in drafting style
  • Take account of lessons learnt in Australia, including in implementing the Model Law in individual States and Territories in Australia

Agreed that the key features of the Model Law that should be adopted include:

  • A primary health and safety duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), supplemented by specific duties for designers, manufacturers and suppliers etc, and a due diligence duty for officers
  • Requiring the PCBU to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers while at work in the business or undertaking
  • New categories of offences and higher penalties
  • Agreed that the Bill include a power for the Court to order the offender to pay the regulator’s costs in bringing a successful prosecution;
  • Agreed that the new law should carry over rules that provide for private prosecution from the HSE Act

In relation to worker participation, the Bill should: 

  • Place an obligation on all PCBUs to consult with workers on health and safety matters that affect them, so far as is reasonably practicable, and require all PCBUs to have worker participation practices appropriate to their workplace
  • Require that if the workers want to have health and safety representative/s, the PCBU must consult the representative/s, allow them time off for training within three months of being requested, pay for that training, provide time and resources to perform their role, and give them information;
  • Require that if the workers and/or PCBU want to have a health and safety committee, workers must make up at least half of the committee, the PCBU must consult the committee, the PCBU must allow the committee time to perform its role, and the PCBU must give the committee information
  • Provide health and safety representatives and committees with the powers based on those provided under the Model Law, including the right for trained health and safety representatives to direct unsafe work to cease (with safeguards against improper use) and to issue a Provisional Improvement Notice to a person they believe is contravening the Act;

Agreed that, in relation to worker participation, the Bill should not:

  • Provide for a system of workplace entry permit holders
  • Require PCBUs to develop an issue resolution procedure
  • Include procedural details that would be better placed in regulations or guidance, such as details about establishing designated work groups
  • Noted that, under the Employment Relations Act, employees may take a personal grievance against an employer who discriminates against them for health and safety reasons, but nonemployees cannot access these protections
  • Agreed that the Employment Relations Act should continue to provide the basis for resolving disputes between employers and employees relating to discrimination in relation to health and safety issues; Noted that consequential amendments to the Employment Relations Act will be necessary to make the protections more explicit and visible, and to refer to the new health and safety regime
  • Agreed that new anti-discrimination provisions be implemented through the Bill that cover disputes between workers and PCBUs outside the employer/employee relationship in relation to discrimination relating to health and safety matters.