New workplace health and safety legislation prove to be a wake-up call
7 December, 2015 | News
An imminent legislative change that will alphat workplace safety regulations is keeping commercial and industrial building owners and property managers on their toes.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which will come into effect on April 4 next year, is aimed at helping reduce New Zealand's workplace serious injury and death toll by 25 per cent by 2020.
The increased responsibilities will be significant for property managers and building owners and it will require the commercial and industrial property sector to be pro-active.
Under the new act, landlords, property and facilities management companies and body corporate managers become PCBUs - a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking.
A PCBU has a primary duty of care including safety of everyone on site and they must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace, and anything arising from the workplace, are without risks to the health and safety.
Bayleys Property Services (BPS) general manager Stuart Bent said the new legislation was being "rigorously discussed and dissected" by their asset and facilities management teams ahead of its introduction.
"The legislation and the new regulations it prescribes require a more sophisticated and greater level of knowledge around managing on-site workplace risks for those involved with the management of commercial buildings.
"This includes building owners and those tasked with managing commercial property assets and facilities," Bent said.
"Landlords who outsource the management of their buildings to BPS expect the team to be abreast of all compliance matters and further, to inform them - as property owners - of their obligations.
"With an extensive offshore client base and a high percentage of remote owners, BPS takes this responsibility very seriously and we expect building owners to do the same."
BPS is a service provider with more than $2.4 billion of commercial assets under its management.
Taking a pro-active stance ahead of the introduction of the new legislation reinforced the professional and comprehensive service offering that BPS clients expected and deserved, he said.
BPS head of facilities management Neil Parker said the pending new legislation was "not a complete reinvention of the health and safety wheel", but rather an upgrade to existing legislation.
"Ensuring a commercial building is safe and compliant is nothing new, however it has been 22 years since the existing legislation was introduced so the new Act is significant for our clients.
"Building owners have to be aware of their obligations and should be putting health and safety firmly on their agendas - literally," Parker said.
"For those property owners with broad and substantial portfolios of commercial property, health and safety should be top of mind at board administrative level with all discussion around this subject documented carefully."
Prudent landlords and tenants should be looking to update their health and safety policies and procedures in anticipation of the act's implementation, he said.
"Landlords will become PCBUs and tenants will become PCBUs. The onus is on both parties to provide a safe workplace for all."
Kevin Williams, an independent consultant for Health and Safety New Zealand, said the company was actively working with building owners and property managers to keep them up to date with legislative changes and responsibilities.
"Under the Act, PCBUs have to inform, train, instruct and supervise workers and in order to do this, hazards need to be clearly identified at the outset so that risks can be managed.
"As part of our service offering, we have the ControlPoint contractor management system which provides online safety training and access monitoring features for workers and contractors to assist with risk management."