The first thing to stop and consider, is that this legislation has been reassessed owing to the Pike River mine incident and so it was a piece of legislation that has been primarily focused on gross negligence in ensuring the safety of workers so they don't lose their limbs or life.
It's also to address generations of a "she'll be right" attitude when it comes to chemicals, hazard management, and operation of heavy equipment.
So, here are the categories of liability to the company, the PCUB (person conducting the business or undertaking) and the officer, as per the Bill:
Category 1 Reckless conduct—applies to a person who has a Health and Safety duty and, without reasonable excuse, engages in conduct that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness, and is reckless as to the risk. The maximum penalty for an officer is $600,000, five years’ imprisonment, or both.
Category 2 Failure exposing to serious risk—applies to a person who fails to comply with their Health and Safety duty, and the failure exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness. The maximum fine for an officer is $300,000.
Category 3 Failure--applies to a person who fails to comply with their health and safety duty. The maximum fine for an officer is $100,000.
Yes, so it does appear to go 'up-line' to the officer. However, hopefully, you're starting to get the picture, that most of what goes on with health and safety is about 'education', 'awareness', 'communication' within the workplace. It's about keeping people informed, so that they don't make mistakes that will lead to "engaging in conduct" or "fails to comply".
Ideally, you want your entire team to know what is expected of them in how they go about their business within the workplace, and you want engagement from your team so that they understand the importance of compliance.
Compliance (for the purpose of the significant fines), is not so much based on being unaware, but about being non-accepting of what is required. However, the adage: 'when people know better, they do better' is true also. From a legal perspective (per the legislation), if you are a company owner, PCUB or officer, it is your obligation to know and understand the potential of dangers and how they may translate to a worker's health and safety - and then, make sure THEY know.
So, that's the first lesson: If you're unsure as to what the Bill is going to mean in the long run for your business, at the very least, focus on:
1. Understanding any potential risks or dangers that may/could exist
Go through your business and identify what types of health and safety risks there could be, both within the office or on your external work sites. It could be as simple as having a series of group meetings and everyone has to bring something to the meeting that they have identified as a potential safety hazard. Everyone's busy, but everyone needs to be a contributor on this.
2. Document potential risks so that you can fix them
Create a simple register of items identified so you can tie them together into standard operating procedures (SOPs). These turn into simple directives as to how to remove or take care in any potential hazard situations. An example could be the kitchen staff room's auto-hot water dispenser, with a simple legible warning about its use.
3. Start engaging workers NOW
There is no time like the present to start the process, and just because the formal legislation will not be released until April 2016, the habits created now, will mean a lot easier transition later. After all, it really is about worker health and safety - not about the documentation.
Create a situation whereby you introduce 'safety moments' into your weekly or monthly meetings. Start with the expectation that someone in the meeting needs to identify a potential safety hazard that can be noted and then handled. It's an ideal way of not leaving it all to just one person.
4. Educate and inform your workers
Hold simple 'lunch and learns' or 'toolbox talks' about various topics so that everyone just knows what's going on. If some of your workers are off-site, hold Google Hangouts or Skype sessions where they can be a part of the sessions too. Everyone brings their lunch or you put on a sandwich or two, and someone talks for 15-20 minutes about aspects of the business they need to be aware of. Make sure you take a roll-call of who is there, as this will feed back to understanding who knows what.
The bottom line is this...
You need to be proactive in taking the best care you can of your workers. If you do this, then intention is 9/10ths of the law. However, to back this up, take a look at your documentation and how you educate and inform your people so that they can actually comply with legislation.
Realistically, the NZ government simply wants to reduce the number of serious accidents resulting in loss of limbs and loss of life.
Here's a table that shows implications at a glance. The actual clauses taken from the Bill follow.
The Gunning FOG index is a test designed to measure the readability or density of a sample of English writing based on sentence length.
The general rule in business report writing, is to keep sentences succinct, short and compact at around 15-20 words each.
The test is based on an estimate which is calculated as to the number of years of formal education that a person needs in order to understand the sample on the first read through.
The test was developed by Robert Gunning, an American businessman, in 1952.
The Fog index is mainly used by writers who target a wide demographic and want their writing to be understood easily.
Based on the test, in order for text to reach an audience with a close-to-universal understanding, the index needs to be less than 8.
How To Calculate The Gunning Fog Index
The Gunning fog index can be calculated with the following algorithm.
1. Take a full passage that is around 100 words (do not omit any sentences)
2. Find the average sentence length (divide the number of words by the number of sentences)
3. Count words with three or more syllables (complex words), not including proper nouns (for example, Djibouti), familiar jargon or compound words, or common suffixes such as --es, -ed, or --ing as a syllable
4. Add the average sentence length and the percentage of complex words
5. Multiply the result by 0.4
While the index is a good indication of reading difficulty, it still has limitations. Not all multi-syllabic words are difficult. For example, the word "asparagus" is generally not considered to be a difficult word, even though it has four syllables. Additionally, a short sentence can be crammed full of complex words.
The following paragraph, from the Wikipedia article on "logorrhoea", has a gunning Fog Index of 16.6.
The word logorrhoea is often used pejoratively to describe prose that is highly abstract and contains little concrete language. Since abstract writing is hard to visualise, it often seems as though it makes no sense and all the words are excessive. Writers in academic fields that concern themselves mostly with the abstract, such as philosophy and especially postmodernism, often fail to include extensive concrete examples of their ideas and so a superficial examination of their work might lead one to believe that it is all nonsense.
The Fog Index Table
The following table is an indication of readability based on the average number of words in sentences within a passage of writing.
If a sentence has eight words or less, it is deemed 'easy to read'. Additionally, an average reader would have no difficulty in reading a sentence of 17 words in length. However, a sentence comprised of 29 words or more, is considered 'difficult to read'.
A variety in sentence length will generally increase a reader's interest.
# of Words & Readability
8 or less = Very easy
11 = Easy
14 = Fairly easy
17 = Standard
21 = Fairly difficult
25 = Difficult
29 = Very difficult
Resources -- External Links:
* Fog Index Calculator (http://simbo.madpage.com/Fog/) A simple web page to cut-and-paste text and then calculate Fog Index
* Online Fog Index Calculator (http://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp)
Suggestions as to how to improve readability, different measurements.
* Readability Calculator (http://www.sigmalist.com/SigmaMathTool/FogIndex.aspx) Clear and easy.
The first thing to realise is that the framework you are creating is a management system, but it's also intended to be a very easy to follow framework where anyone in the business can pick it up and know where to find things. It needs to make logical sense.
Let's start with three high-level entry points in our system:
1. Developing your health and safety system (the fundamentals per the legislation)
2. How you deal with accidents at work, i.e. recording them, and
3. How you manage hazards, i.e. so an accident doesn't happen.
So, #1 - we're developing the health and safety system.
Start with identifying how the information is going to be stored, shared, used in training? Printed in folders on a shelf somewhere? On the intranet like SharePoint with intra-and-interlinks to required documents? In someone's hard-drive where no-one can find it?
a) define the employer's general duties and how you involve the staff in health and safety
b) set out your policy statement on how you help to ensure a safe and healthy work site
c) nominate and notate who your health and safety representatives are.
#2 - dealing with accidents at work.
a) detail how you record and notify authorities or key stakeholders of work site accidents
b) detail how you ensure there is no interference in serious accident scenes, and
c) provide the 'serious harm' definition so it is clearly understood by all staff.
#3 - managing workplace hazards.
This is where you set out your individual safety policies and procedures, such as safety around loud noise, safety around hazardous containers, safety around machinery or safety around excavations -- whatever is appropriate to your business type.
Many businesses provide a process flow-chart for aspects of their safety procedures as they are a quick and easy reference in an emergency instead of having to read through pages of documentation.
By implementing these elements, you will have started to develop the basis of a solid health and safety management system. However, remember, it's more about training and it's one thing to have the documentation, but it's another to ensure everyone is sufficiently trained and aware to actually use it!
I trust that has made it easier for you to embark on preparing your business adequately. However, as always, if you need any help in pulling it together, we can step in and work with you and your team at any part of the process.
If you have been assigned a writing project, assignment, essay or report, sometimes just getting started can be a challenge. Do you find yourself just baffled by a blank page?
More often than not, the sense of feeling overwhelmed can come from looking at the entire project instead of breaking it down and working through it piece by piece. High level mind-mapping and planning is valuable, but after you have conducted this process, the easiest way is to start with collecting information, references and ideas together ready for the C-S-A-W (through to writing).
So, here's how you can get started.
Make an initial outline draft and list below each heading potential ideas to be expanded. Take a look at your overall structure of what you plan to write about and ensure that the material flows logically (headings) and you have addressed the intention of the report from the recipient's perspective.
Write the first draft. Each idea that has been listed in the previous exercise, can now be expanded into a paragraph. The paragraphs are then arranged into a logical order within the head or sub-heading.
- use short and succinct sentences
- link paragraphs together appropriately
- use correct technical terms relevant to the industry
Follow this checklist:
* Have you addressed the prescribed scope of works?
* Is the Executive Summary clear and concise as to findings and/or recommendations?
* Does the information flow in a logical progression?
* Have you appropriately referenced all sources?
* Are you required to follow a corporate editorial style guide?
* Are all headings uniform or consistent, i.e. H1, H2, H3 in the style formatting option?
* Have you correctly named all tables, figures and diagrams included in your report?
Style & Language
* Confirm that you have not used any emotive or colloquial language
* Have you written in a clear and succinct style?
* Are your sentences short and relevant? [Fog Index]
* Is your message being adequately portrayed and to the appropriate audience level?
* Have you referenced all graphs, figures and tables? (Don't assume your reader will automatically be able to interpret or make the connections).
Grammar, Spelling & Punctuation
* Is your writing consistent in tense (past or present) [refer to active/passive voice]
* Have you checked spelling (proofreading): spell check function set to appropriate language, i.e. English US or English UK?
* Remember the concept of 'white space' to create easier reading
* Check tables, figures, graphs and appendices that they are in correct order within the report and referenced and number sequentially. [prepare Excel spreadsheet example].
* Are the tables and diagrams placed strategically in the report for relevance and reference?
As an employer you need to regularly assess, record, and review hazards, i.e. any potential or actual source of harm whether it's a process, the location, a situation, equipment, or a person's behaviour. Your own industry might also have best-practice guidance for this. Getting staff input will enhance hazard management and help determine whether a hazard is significant, i.e. whether it could lead to serious harm. Your records should list any work injuries that have occurred. If serious harm occurs on a work site, your investigation will need to identify any significant hazard that may have caused the event. Your health and safety system must show employees existing hazards, and new hazards preferably before they arise.
Protect Employees From Hazards
If a significant work site hazard can't be removed (i.e. eliminated), or blocked from human interaction (i.e. isolated), you must:
Protective equipment covers items not usually worn by people, e.g. masks and hearing protection. Protective clothing means items usually worn but which have additional protection, e.g. hard hats, safety boots, overalls which protect against toxic substances, but not overalls which only protect against dust and dirt.
You must not:
Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (NZ), sections 7-11
Source: WorkSafe NZ
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