By Lesley Scher
By the time you read this, The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 will be in force. It will affect both clients and staff. To assist you, I have provided an easy summary of the changes it brings:
1. Commences Monday 4 April 2016.
2. The Act has widened to include any person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). (In the past it was employers and now includes sole traders.)
3. The owner of the business has the first duty to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of:
- a) Its workers (your employees).
- b) Any workers whose activities are influenced and/or directed by it
- (a contractor for example).
- c) Any other persons affected (apprentice or student).
4. The test of ‘reasonably practicable’ requires the owner of the business to:
- a) Take into account the likelihood of a hazard occurring (e.g. ensuring staff perform their tasks safely).
- b) Work out the degree of harm that may result if a hazard occurs to an employee.
- c) State what is known about the hazard and how to minimise the risk or remove it.
- d) The cost (this is only an issue if the cost is far more than the risk).
5. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, then as the owner, you have to control it.
(For example, an IPL machine should be checked by an electrician/engineer every year as well as your power points.) You, as the owner have the same duties to contractors as you do to your staff.
6. The Act separately imposes duties on an officer. An officer can be another owner or director of your company, a partner of your business, a chief executive, an administrator or manager. This officer must use due diligence to ensure you comply with the Act. For example, a Health and Safety system and appropriate processes including reports back to you and a review programme are all in place.
7. If you are found guilty of a breach of the Health and Safety Act there are severe penalties including a maximum of $300,000 for a person, $600,000 for an officer, and $3,000,000 for the owner/s. This is why it is important that you have Statutory Liability and Directors and Officers Liability if you have a large clinic.
Going forward, ensure that you have Public Liability, (which does not cover you for an alleged claim of negligent treatment or advice), and you also have Professional Indemnity and Statutory Liability (which covers you for fines and penalties under any Act of Parliament in New Zealand including the Health and Safety Act). Directors and Officers Liability is unnecessary unless you have a large clinic with the risks of safety an issue. Note that as a member of the NZARBth, you have access to the Salon Liability Pack which covers all of these insurances.
Be beautifully prepared in case of an incident. If you have two floors, for example, ensure there is a railing on the exposed side of the stairs. If you have staff conducting IPL treatments, for example, ensure that they have the appropriate qualifications in case of a hazard occurring. Unfortunately, we are becoming more of a litigious society, despite the fact that we are the only country in the world to have ACC. Post-treatment forms are a necessity to protect the business.