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.