A significant step in the reform of New Zealand’s hazardous substances regime has now been completed. Following feedback received in early 2017, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ( MBIE) has finalised the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 found here. Parts of the Regulations will come into force from as early as 1 September 2017. Transitional provisions will allow up to two years for certain new requirements to take effect, and will enable compliance certifiers to continue operating under their current HSNO authorisations until they expire.
The Regulations form part of the Government’s initiative to improve overall workplace health and safety. They will transfer the regulation of hazardous substance use in the workplace from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act to the new health and safety at work regime (administered by WorkSafe).
The Regulations consolidate into one document, a range of requirements for the storage, use, handling and manufacture of hazardous substances in the workplace. These requirements are currently set under the HSNO Act in 15 sets of regulations, nine transfer notices, 210 group standard approvals, and around 1,500 individual substance approvals. This consolidation is intended to make it easier for businesses to understand their workplace obligations when dealing with hazardous substances. In undertaking the consolidation exercise, minor changes have been made to the HSNO controls, to simplify requirements and codify current industry practice. The regulations also provide WorkSafe with new safe work instruments which can vary certain existing requirements or set new requirements for substances, similar to the current mechanisms under the HSNO Act.
Once the new Regulations come into force, WorkSafe and MBIE intend to undertake another review of the Regulations to simplify them further. This review will commence within two years of the new Regulations coming into force. As part of this process, WorkSafe has indicated that it will partner with stakeholders to further simplify requirements for businesses, make the regulatory framework easier to understand, remove unnecessary regulation, and provide more certainty to reduce compliance and transaction costs.
If your business stores or uses hazardous substances then the Regulations are likely to be relevant to your business practices and compliance costs.
To help you stay informed, Worksafe will be producing email updates to interested people about some of the key areas of change and duty holder responsibility. If you haven’t already, we do encourage you to subscribe to receive these.
You can also read the first of Worksafes web pages about the Regulations. This will be built on on these over time to provide more information and guidance.
Please also forward this to others you think may be interested.