Are Health and Safety Charges Legal or Appropriate

Are Health and Safety Charges Legal or Appropriate?

A number of our clients have asked the question:

These Health and Safety charges on our invoices, should we pay them?”

Interesting question, as it is not that clear what the HSWA 2015 implies regarding charging a fee for Health and Safety.

The HSWA does have some Parts that could be interpreted as saying “not warranted” or possibly “not lawful”.

  • Part 1:29(2)
  • Part2:31

I am aware of one PCBU that receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from a Health and Safety levy.  A levy that was applied when the HSWA 2015 was implemented, with no change in service provision. (This particular PCBU issue is currently under review by WorkSafe NZ)

Then there are the many companies that apply a fee on invoices noted “Health and Safety”.

Some facts to consider:

  • An implemented Health and Safety process should add value to a business; therefore, improving income.
    • For example: the simple process of enabling staff to ensure people don’t come into a workshop (“Go to the office” takes about 4 weeks for people to change their behaviour and go to the office first) and a simple sign “NO ENTRY- Go to Reception” supports the behaviour required.

The outcome has shown that this action:

  • Improves productivity of staff through fewer interruptions.
  • Less minor injuries lead to fewer distractions.

Are they saying the extra charge is due to more time or paperwork?

The HSWA 2015 requires less paperwork (If your company is doing too much – they are doing it wrong)

The only paperwork required is that which raises the awareness to the staff of:

  • Things that might hurt them based on ‘where they are is where the risk is.’
  • Managing the risk.
  • Noting how the risk was managed.

The process of spending 30 minutes each day going over the same information, particularly if it is not relevant to the individual, simply disengages awareness and creates apathy.

Maybe this is familiar:

this is day 4 of digging footings (no new staff on site noting has changed on site other than more trenches) please note: make sure you read the ‘hazard board’, beware there are trenches all over the site, beware there is a truck coming today to deliver supplies and they are dropping off way over there. It’s going to affect you though, its going to be to be sunny today, don’t forget to slip slop slap, blah blah…….”

Simple task; without looking, what does it say on your ‘hazard board?’.

Not sure?

Then how can you realistically expect visitors or others to read and remember all the information and then put that information into practice?

Do you really think the ‘Board’ is of any value?

The effective approach is to have a large sign “No Entry – Phone ….. for an appointment”.

This will enable visits to be planned and have someone guiding them, ensuring they are free from harm and will not interrupt or distract staff.

The ‘nothing new to report’ meeting however takes; – 30 minutes x 5 staff equals 2.5 hours of no production costing someone @ $30 per hour wages $75.00 a day/$350.00 a week. (a known example)

Acknowledging staff as professionals and enabling them to be aware of things that may hurt them, where they are, is more effective.

When a new risk needs sharing, staff then understand and take it on board as it is seen as a priority.

The next time you see a Health and Safety fee/levy ask:

               “what is the fee for and what value does it add?”

               “why are we paying for a company’s inefficiency?”

A point to Remember: – “Because” – is not an acceptable answer!