One of the things that makes New Zealand one of the safer countries for workers in the world is that there is a robust occupational health and safety regulatory system, backed up with numerous Acts of Parliament, to ensure that workers are kept safe as they go about their daily occupations. The legislation in place has fines or other penalties attached for breaches of regulations, and in many instances business owners or directors can be personally liable for these.
There are many different regulations for businesses, regardless of their size within New Zealand . It’s important that any business owner properly investigates the specific requirements for their own industry, as well as the more general Health and Safety at Work Act Regulations.
The government is not in the business of trying to catch employers or employees out, but rather, it works to reduce injuries and deaths within the workplace. WorkSafe New Zealand offers a lot of guidance and advice, especially for small businesses, helping all interested parties to understand what they must do to be compliant with workplace health and safety requirements.
It’s a simple fact of life that accidents happen, and even the safest of workplaces may unfortunately, experience incidents, injuries, or even death during their operations. If this happens, government agencies, including possibly law enforcement, will investigate what has happened and who may be at fault.
If you are found to have been negligent or in breach of regulations, the penalties could be severe. For this reason, and to ensure that your employees will be compensated if they experience an injury, you need to consider having some protection in place so that the future of your business isn’t at stake.
A solid way to ensure that your business is well protected is to do everything you can to give your employees and customers the safest possible environment in which to operate and have a robust system of risk management established. One step that you can take is by ensuring that your staff are all properly trained and aware of the relevant safety procedures and processes which you have in place..
The vast majority of business owners are responsible people who are keen to comply with all regulatory regimes and make sure that their employees are well cared for. However, there is an enormous number of laws and regulations regarding health and safety in the workplace, some of which only apply to certain businesses and some of which are universal; ensuring that you are compliant with all of them can be confusing and time-consuming. However, there are ways to ensure that you remain compliant and do not breach regulations.
One of these is to make sure that you have a risk management plan in place. Start your plan by reviewing all of the laws and regulations that are applicable to your particular sector and then set out your plans as to how you will comply with them. Just as importantly, how you will ensure that your employees know their responsibilities to do the same.
As a small business owner it’s your duty to trainyour staff to be vigilant and aware of the different laws and regulations which they need to be aware of in the workplace.
You can empower your staff with the right tools and knowledge to create a safe workplace by providing all the necessary and relevant training either in-house or through external training providers. It’s a wise move to keep documentation on all the training that you have offered as well as copies of all your training materials.
Have the conversation with your employees letting them know why they should keep the workplace safe, and why they are being asked to do it. People are much more likely to be compliant if they see a reason behind a regulation rather than it simply being an onerous task which hasn’t been properly explained.
Ongoing health and safety training is essential: it’s not enough to simply train employees on induction and leave it at that. Regulations are continuously changing, and so are risks. The global issues which are currently occurring are a prime example of the way that new risks can arise that have to be mitigated and trained for. Not only should you provide training that meets your statutory health and safety obligations, you should be proactive in asking your employees and, where appropriate, your clients whether they have any concerns about health and safety that they feel should be addressed.
Asking employees to be proactively involved in designing and assessing your training regime will make them feel more valued and increase the chances of them being compliant with your operations.
An integral part of any risk management strategy is to incorporate Statutory Liability insurance*. This type of insurance protects you, your business and your employees against certain unintentional breaches of some New Zealand laws (not criminal laws though). It will also cover the costs of representation related to investigations for alleged breaches, as well as defence costs, and fines or penalties payable following a conviction, where the underlying law allows for fines to be paid by Insurers.
Not having insurances in place like Statutory Liability insurance, means your business may be liable to payfines or compensation. This can cause a big stress upon your finances and reputation, something that you have worked hard at achieving.
. In far too many cases where companies have neglected to include adequate, or indeed any Statutory Liability insurance as part of their health and safety strategy, the financial blow from just a single breach of health and safety regulations can be enough to bankrupt the company, its owners and directors.
Getting your business insurance doesn’t have to be dramatic. With BizCover, we believe getting your insurance sorted should be simple, we even do the shopping around for you! If you would like more information about Statutory Liability or other business insurance options visit BizCover.
*This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this web page is general only and should not be relied upon as advice.
The provision of the claims examples are for illustrative purposes only and should not be seen as an indication as to how any potential claim will be assessed or accepted. Cover for a claim will depend on the specific circumstances around the loss and would be subject to the terms and conditions of the policy concerned.