Health and safety legislation

Health and safety has been at the top of the agenda for several countries in 2016, with government and official bodies tightening workplace safety legislation and guidelines in an attempt to reduce workplace accidents and fatalities.

Here we take a look at the biggest health and safety legislation and guideline changes over the last 6 months which have come into effect in the UK, New Zealand and Singapore.

UK

Sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences: 1st February 2016

Who does it effect?

All organisations and individual offenders aged 18 and older, who are sentenced on or after 1 February 2016, regardless of the date of the offence.

Key changes:

    • Move from outcome based sentencing to risk based sentencing
      Previously, prosecution has been based on the outcome of an accident or incident. However, the new sentencing guidelines are based on the exposure of risk to individuals. This means that if an employee is exposed to a risk that could result in injury or death, the business can be prosecuted before an incident occurs
    • Increased fines
      Fines for health and safety breaches have increased dramatically (now starting as high as the millions) and can now be given for exposure to risk.
      For example, corporate manslaughter fines for large companies have increased from a starting threshold of £500,000 to £7.5 million.
    • Lower threshold for imprisonment
      If an employer is aware of a health and safety breach in the business that could or has caused injury or death and had not taken action to rectify it, they could face 6-18 months of imprisonment.

New Zealand

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: 4th April 2016

Who does it effect?

All businesses, their officers, employees, visitors and customers.

Key changes:

  • Responsibility shift
    Workplace health and safety responsibility has historically fallen onto the employer. However, the new act places responsibility on the business, officers, employees, visitors and customers who all hold different responsibilities to their own health and safety and that of those around them.
    The business is also expected to protect anyone who may be effected by it’s business including workers, contractors, customers and visitors.
  • Shifts focus from physical workplace to the conduct of work
    Health and safety policy must cover and protect those involved in business conducted outside of the ‘typical’ workplace such as the office or work site. This could cover for example, employees visiting clients in their homes or while travelling between sites.
  • Focus on actively managing risk
    The act sees a shift from monitoring and recording health and safety incidents to proactively identifying risks and taking steps to manage and reduce them.
  • Supports employee engagement and participation
    As part of the legislation the business must implement effective participation and allow workers to contribute to health and safety practices on an ongoing basis. It is also a legal requirement for the employee to take an active attitude towards health and safety.

Singapore

The Manpower Ministry 12th May 2016

Who does it effect?

All businesses found lacking in workplace safety and health standards

Key changes:

  • Increased stop work order
    The Manpower Ministry (MOM) announced that stop work orders, in which a business is ordered to cease work completely, have increased from a minimum of 2 weeks to 3.
    Compulsory refresher training will also be given on all areas of weakness and can only be lifted by an approved external auditor following a re-evaluation of the site’s work safety and health management systems.
  • Work pass privileges stopped
    Businesses may also be prevented from hiring new foreign workers until safety issues have been addressed.
  • Increased fines
    Fines for health and safety breaches have increased to up to $500,000 for first offences

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