Health & Safety

There are 4 steps that Loomio takes to address health and safety in the workplace:

  1. Identifying hazards and assessing the risks
  2. Managing the risks
  3. Monitoring control measures
  4. Reviewing for continuous improvement

Identifying hazards and assessing the risks

All workers are invited at any time, to identify health and safety hazards and risks, and to identify and take steps to prevent these from happening. This ongoing worker engagement is made possible by having a Loomio thread with a link to the Hazards register. Workers are able to contribute to the discussion thread at any time.

However, to keep engagement up, the Well Working Group has taken responsibility for regularly prompting workers to identify health and safety hazards and risks and add them to the Hazards Register.

Managing the risks

It is the role of the Company Secretary to ensure that the risk reduction measures suggested by workers on the Hazards Register are implemented, or to provide a reasonable explanation as to why the suggestions were not implemented.

Monitoring control measures

During their monthly meetings, the Well Working Group will review any Health and Safety incidents.

The Well Working Group will also, once a year, audit the hazards register to see if the risk reduction measures are being implemented, and if not, whether fair explanations are being provided as to why.

Notes from these monthly and annual meetings will be posted on the Well Working Group Loomio thread.

Continuous Improvement

Once a year the Company Secretary will ask Loomio Workers to identify health and safety goals. The Company Secretary will then design questions for the monthly Vibe-rater Google form questionnaire as a means of monitoring progress against these goals.

Yearly, the Board of Directors will review the health and safety policy and see if/how it can be improved.

Health and Safety responsibilities

New Zealand’s Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 ensures that everyone has a role to play and makes everyone's responsibilities clear. The following list identifies those responsibilities in the Loomio context:

  • The Board must do due diligence to make sure the business understands and is meeting its health and safety responsibilities. The Board has overall responsibility to ensure that the Health and Safety Policy is in place, maintained and is continuously improved.

  • The Board delegates to Coordinators and the Company Secretary the responsibility of ensuring policy is practiced.

  • The Well Working group has a support role to practice the policy.

  • Workers have responsibility of awareness and practice, including caring for customers, users, stakeholders and visitors.

Context: NZ’s Health and Safety Law

Loomio’s Health and Safety policy is designed to meet the requirements of New Zealand's workplace health and safety law, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). Content for the next several sections is copied verbatim from various parts of the New Zealand Government’s Worksafe website.

New Zealand’s Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), ensures that everyone has a role to play and makes everyone's responsibilities clear:

  • Businesses have the primary responsibility for the health and safety of their workers and any other workers they influence or direct. They are also responsible for the health and safety of people at risk from the work of their business.
  • Officers (company directors, partners, board members, chief executives) must do due diligence to make sure the business understands and is meeting its health and safety responsibilities.
  • Workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their actions don't adversely affect the health and safety of others. They must also follow any reasonable health and safety instruction given to them by the business and cooperate with any reasonable business policy or procedure relating to health and safety in the workplace.
  • Other people who come into the workplace, such as visitors or customers, also have some health and safety duties to ensure that their actions don’t adversely affect the health and safety of others.

Businesses and the primary duty of care

Under HSWA, a business or undertaking must look after the health and safety of its workers and any other workers it influences or directs. The business or undertaking is also responsible for the health and safety of other people at risk from its work including customers, visitors, or the general public. This is called the 'primary duty of care'.

The primary duty of care is broad overarching duty which includes, but is not limited to, a business having effective practices in place for:

Officers and the duty of due diligence

HSWA makes health and safety everyone's responsibility, while at the same time recognising that officers in a business have more influence and control over the business than its workers. Officers must make sure the business understands and manages its key risks.

An officer is a person who holds a very senior leadership position in the business, and has the ability to significantly influence the management of a business or undertaking. A business can have more than one officer.

Officers include:

  • directors,
  • partners in a partnership,
  • board members,
  • any person who holds a position comparable to a director in a body corporate or an unincorporated body, and
  • any person who exercises significant influence over the management of the business or undertaking (eg the Chief Executive).

Officers have a duty of due diligence to ensure their business understands and manages its key health and safety risks. This includes taking reasonable steps to:

  • Have relevant, up-to-date knowledge of workplace health and safety.
  • Understand the nature of the business and its operations and associated health and safety risks generally.
  • Ensure the business has appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risk.
  • Ensure the business has processes for receiving, considering and responding to information about incidents, hazards, and risks.

This table below shows what due diligence looks like and provides examples of best practice.

DUE DILIGENCE INCLUDES OFFICERS TAKING REASONABLE STEPS TO:

1) Acquire and have relevant, up-to-date knowledge of workplace health and safety.

Examples of good practice:

  • Get general and industry-specific health and safety information from places like WorkSafe, safety publications, safety websites and industry associations.
  • Obtain independent expert advice where appropriate.

2) Understand the business's operations and associated health and safety risks generally.

Examples of good practice:

  • Review the business's health and safety risks and how they are controlled.
  • Talk with workers (eg through focus groups, surveys and talking to health and safety representatives).
  • Consider the health and safety implications and resources needed when making decisions.

3) Ensure the business has appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risk.

Examples of good practice:

  • Create or review the health and safety budget so resources are available when needed.
  • Make sure staff have a mix of operational and health and safety expertise to operate the business safely and effectively.
  • Make sure that the business has processes to control health and safety risks, and uses them (eg documented ‘buy safe’ and ‘buy quiet’ processes for buying plant and equipment).

4) Ensure that the business is complying with its duties and obligations under HSWA.

Examples of good practice:

  • Decide which people in the business will have health and safety management responsibilities.
  • Make sure the business has a health and safety management system (reporting notifiable incidents, consultation. acting on improvement notices, training, personal protective equipment, etc) and that everyone complies with it.
  • Make sure the business has effective worker engagement and work participation practices.

5) Ensure the business has processes for receiving, considering and responding to information about incidents, hazards, and risks.

Examples of good practice:

  • Make sure a process is in place for workers and others at the workplace to report incidents, hazards and risks.
  • Make sure there is a process for responding to information in a timely way and taking action.
  • Make sure the risk assessment process is thorough, covers all work tasks and workplaces, and that everyone uses it.
  • Make sure the business has emergency response plans, and that they are regularly tested.

6) Ensure there are systems in place to monitor and ensure that the resources and processes referred to above are being implemented and used.

Examples of good practice:

  • Include processes to plan, deliver and review leadership of health and safety in the board charter.
  • Arrange for a periodic independent review of health and safety systems, processes and resources.
  • Review health and safety systems and processes after health and safety incidents.

Workers’ and other’s duties

Workers

A worker is an individual who carries out work in any capacity for a business or undertaking. This includes:

  • Employees
  • Contractors/Sub-contractors
  • Employees of labour hire companies
  • Apprentices or trainees
  • People doing work experience or work trial
  • Volunteer workers.

Workers must:

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • take reasonable care that what they do or do not do does not adversely affect the health and safety of other people
  • cooperate with any reasonable workplace health and safety policy or procedure that has been notified to them by the business or undertaking
  • comply, so far as reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction given by the business or undertaking, so the business or undertaking can comply with HSWA and regulations.

Other people

Examples of other people at a workplace include:

  • Visitors to a workplace (eg courier drivers, clients, suppliers, people on tours of the workplace)
  • Customers
  • Any public who could come into contact with a business’ work activity
  • People at a concert
  • Casual volunteers (not volunteer workers).

Other people at a workplace have their own health and safety duty to: keep themselves safe and not cause harm to others, follow any reasonable health and safety instructions given to them by the business or undertaking.

Volunteers

Certain volunteers are classed as volunteer workers. A volunteer is a ‘volunteer worker’ when: they work for a business or undertaking who knows they are doing that work or has given consent for it to be done, and the volunteer does the work on an ongoing and regular basis, and the work is an integral part of the business or undertaking.

You are not a volunteer worker if your work is:

  • participating in fundraising
  • assisting with sports or recreation for an educational institute, sports club or recreation club
  • assisting with activities for an educational institute outside its premises or
  • providing care for another person in the volunteer’s home (eg foster care).

Businesses and undertakings owe the same duties they owe to workers to volunteer workers – except for worker engagement and participation duties. Although volunteer workers are not covered by these duties, they can still raise health and safety concerns with the business or undertaking.

Volunteer workers have the same duties as other workers.

Worker engagement and participation

All businesses and undertakings must involve their workers in workplace health and safety. A safe workplace is more easily achieved when everyone involved in the work communicates with each other to identify hazards and risks, talks about any health and safety concerns and works together to find solutions.

Businesses have two related duties:

1) to engage with workers who carry out work for them on health and safety matters that may directly affect them 2) to have practices that give their workers reasonable opportunities to participate effectively in improving health and safety in the business or undertaking on an ongoing basis (these are known as worker participation practices).

These duties only extend to workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking.

Businesses need to engage and consult with workers:

  • When hazards are identified and assessed
  • When making decisions about addressing risks
  • the adequacy of staff welfare facilities
  • monitoring worker health and workplace conditions
  • providing information and training to workers
  • procedures for resolving work health or safety issues
  • When determining work groups
  • When proposing changes which may affect the health and safety of workers

Worker engagement and worker participation practices can be direct or through representation.

Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and Health and Safety Committees (HSCs) are two well established methods of representation.

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