Following on from my blog last year and comments in our recent newsletter the new Health and Safety requirements come into place on the 4th of April 2016. You have probably seen various articles, including the one about Peter Jackson, regarding mass resignations of Directors in light of the new Health and Safety Requirements for Directors.
It is easy to read the headlines and pass it off as scaremongering, although in this case there is some substance to this and all Directors (as well as anyone else involved in business) should be considering their responsibilities under the new laws.
What are new Directors responsibilities?
All directors now have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to keep up to date knowledge of work health and safety matters and have an understanding of the business and its risks, ensuring it has appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks.
This has always been the case for those involved in the running of the business but now extends to all Directors including those with no day to day involvement.
Do you need to resign as a Director?
As per the Peter Jackson article, in a lot of cases, if you don’t have regular hands on involvement in the running of the company it can be difficult to ensure that you maintain an up to date understanding of the business risks involved and the processes that are in place.
As a director you can be held liable if duties are not met by the company.
What happens if responsibilities are not met?
The Bill increases the penalties and creates three offence tiers relating to breaches of the health and safety duties:
- Reckless Conduct – fines up to $3 million (or $600,000 and/or up to five years’ imprisonment for individuals)
- Failure to comply with a Duty (that could cause death or serious injury) – fines up to $1.5 million (or $300,000 for individuals)
- Failure to comply with a Duty – fines up to $500,000 (or $100,000 for individuals)
Worksafe will still be required to work with you and help deal with risks, and has a number of codes and guides on their website to assist employers in managing specific risks.
At this time it is essential that you either get involved in the Health and Safety processes or consider your position as a Director and whether you are in a position to ensure the company is meeting the requirements.
Give Peta or I a call if you wish to further discuss your options.