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Worksafe Update precast concrete consultation and hazardous substances updates


precast concrete

Consultation on precast concrete

Public consultation on two documents about precast concrete work is open.

Worksafe have engaged with a working group to develop new draft guidance that:

  • describes current good practices for handling, transporting and erecting precast concrete elements in New Zealand workplaces, and
  • reflects the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).

The working group included key stakeholders with specialist knowledge and experience in the precast concrete industry.

Public feedback is invited on:

Public consultation opens on Monday 13 November and the deadline for receiving submissions is 5pm on Friday 8 December.

Find out more here.


New focus on hazardous substance safety

Hazardous substances are widely used across New Zealand workplaces, so it’s important to know the risks and how to protect people from harm.

On 1 December 2017, the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 will come into force. They apply to all workplaces that manufacture, use, handle and store hazardous substances.

One in three businesses work with hazardous substances in New Zealand. That includes factories, farmers and growers, as well as tradespeople, collision repairers, hairdressers and retailers. Common hazardous substances are fuels and LPG, acids, cleaning solutions, agricultural chemicals, paints, glues and chlorine.

“Used safely, hazardous substances can contribute to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity,” WorkSafe General Manager Operations and Specialist Services Brett Murray says. “But they also pose real risks to the people working with or around them, including explosion, fire, and serious health issues.”

It is estimated that New Zealand workers are 10 times more likely to die from work-related health risks, such as hazardous substances, than workplace safety incidents, Mr Murray says. However, despite this harm, there can be more complacency about the dangers of hazardous substances than other workplace risks.

“The harm from inhaling toxic vapours or contact with some substances is often unseen. Workers may be unaware they are being exposed, and the effects of exposure may not be discovered for many years.

“The Regulations are aimed at reducing the harm from hazardous substances in the workplace and will increase the focus on their safe management. They bring an expectation on everyone working with them to know what those substances are, the risks they pose and how to manage those risks.”

This is not about wholesale change. The rules for work-related activities involving hazardous substances are moving from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act to the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA).

Many of the existing requirements continue under the new Regulations, so if your business is complying now, there may not be much more you have to do. However, there are key changes that will help ensure you, as the person in charge, are doing your duty to protect people from harm.

The starting point is to identify the risks in your workplace. Make a list of the hazardous substances on site, the quantities and where they are stored. Then read the safety data sheets (SDS) to understand the risks they pose, how to use and store them safely and what to do if there is a spill or you are exposed to them. A SDS will be required for each substance.

“You will also need to keep an inventory of your hazardous substances, and the simplest way to do this is to use the Hazardous Substances Calculator,” Mr Murray says. “This is one of the handy tools in the Hazardous Substances Toolbox.”

The calculator will help you work out the safety measures (or controls) you need to put in place to keep people safe. This includes general requirements, such as labelling, packaging and ensuring workers have sufficient instruction and supervision, as well as any additional measures triggered by certain substances or quantities.

“Some highly hazardous substances will require a certified handler, while certain quantities of some substances may mean you need to engage a compliance certifier to issue a location compliance certificate. So as well as reducing risk, keeping your substances to a minimum can help reduce the costs to your operation.

“That’s why you should first look at whether you can remove any products, reduce the amount, or replace them with a safer alternative.”

Mr Murray says it is important to note that the required controls may not be enough to protect people from harm, and you must remove or reduce any remaining risks. This can include installing safety measures, such as extractor fans or using automated enclosed areas to conduct hazardous work.

“Personal protective equipment may also be necessary, but should be the final step after implementing other measures.

“And remember, even the most safety-conscious business can have an accident. Make sure you have an emergency plan in place, including who to contact and who is responsible for what.”

As well as looking at what is changing on 1 December, Mr Murray says people need to remember there is already legislation in place they should be complying with.

“Now is the ideal time to review your management of hazardous substances and ensure you are doing your duty to protect people from harm.”

The WorkSafe website has guidance and information to help you understand your obligations. The Regulations are available on the New Zealand Legislation website.

For practical help, see the Hazardous Substances Toolbox. This will be updated shortly and includes the Hazardous Substances Calculator.

To keep updated, subscribe to the Hazardous Substances e-newsletter.


Taking Control of Hazardous Substances

The rules for work-related activities involving hazardous substances are moving from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act to a set of regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). The new Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 will be introduced on 1 December. They target a reduction in harm through safer management of these substances at work.

“Used safely, hazardous substances can contribute to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity. But they also pose real risks to the people working with or around them,” WorkSafe General Manager Operations and Specialist Services Brett Murray says.

While the regulations have a new name and a new focus in some critical areas, this is not about wholesale change.

“If you are among the one in three New Zealand businesses that works with hazardous substances you’ll need to check that you are managing them properly,” Mr Murray says.

“If you already have robust processes in place, now is the time to review them. There may not be much you need to do differently.”

However, if you’re unsure where to begin here’s our ‘Starter for ten’ – a brief outline of some of the key things you need to know.

Help is at hand!

  • 1.Useful tools and information are available to help you. The WorkSafe website has some great guidance including an overview of what’s new or changing. And the Hazardous Substances Toolbox includes the Hazardous Substances Calculator. This is a useful tool to help you create an inventory and start seeing what you need to do to manage your substances.

Know what you’ve got

  • 2.Create an inventory of the hazardous substances manufactured, used, handled, or stored in your workplace. Inventories are mandatory under the new regulations.
  • 3.Have, and read, a safety data sheet for each hazardous substance in your workplace. These are not only mandatory but excellent sources of key information about managing your substances.

Assess the risk

  • 4.Look at your inventory and consider whether you need all those substances. Can some be removed entirely? Or substituted for a safer product? For those you need to keep, put the required controls in place to minimise the risks. The Calculator can help you with this. Make sure you review and monitor these controls.

Take control

‘Controls’ are measures that help you control the risks associated with a hazardous substance. Here are some of the key things to do:

5.Plan for an emergency: you’ll be planning not to have an emergency but you, your workers, and emergency service workers need to know what to do - and who is responsible for what - if an emergency does occur.

6.Inform and train your workers. Everyone who works with and around hazardous substance must have the knowledge and practical experience to do so safely.

7.Check that your containers of hazardous substances are clearly and correctly labelled so people know what’s inside. Those labels must be maintained and readable.

  • 8.Place signs at key points such as entranceways, and on buildings, or in outdoor areas, where substances are used or stored. Clear, concise information helps people approach with care.
  • 9.Store your hazardous substances safely. Where and how you store hazardous substances will depend on the type of substance and the amount you have.
  • 10.Check if you have any highly hazardous substances, or larger quantities of substances that may need extra measures such as a Certified Handler, or tracking requirements.

“With the new Regulations we hope to bring a positive focus to the safe management of hazardous substances in the workplace,” says Mr Murray. “Everyone will be expected to know what substances they are working with, the risks they pose and how to manage those risks.

“The greatest change will come when, across New Zealand, hazardous substances are treated as an integral part of work health and safely management.”

For tools and information go to www.worksafe.govt.nz and www.hazardoussubstances.govt.nz