New Zealand tightens H&S laws

Ryan Higgs

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All around the world governments are turning their attention to OH&S – Occupational health and safety – and in many cases making serious breaches a criminal, rather than a civil liability.

New Zealand has overhauled its H&S Act and has followed the Australian model – company directors and those in charge can be criminally liable for accidents under their bailiwick. The new act follows the 2010 Pike River Mine Disaster and a Royal Commission that made 16 recommendations. The bottom line is the aim for a 25% reduction in work-related injury and death by 2020.

The Act does not set out to eliminate risk; rather it aims to ensure risks are identified and managed, as much as is reasonably practicable. And identification is, in fact, the hardest part of the process.

OnSide has launched New Zealand’s first completely online health and safety application for farmers, making compliance with the new Health and Safety at Work Act easier.

OnSide Chief Executive Ryan Higgs says that OnSide provides a practical tool and contains all the key elements of a safety plan now required under the new legislation.

“Farmers can expect scrutiny around health and safety compliance to ramp up as the result of the Act. There was a real need in the industry to have an easy and cost-effective way to meet these requirements, and this is what we have created OnSide to provide.”

OnSide enables farmers to develop their own health and safety plan by working through a pre-populated list of risks overlaid on a satellite map of their farm.

Higgs says farmers will save time, but most importantly, will have a simple way to make their employees and any visitors aware of risks and how to manage them, which will reduce incidents and improve farm safety.

Contractors and visitors who enter the farm will be prompted to sign in on a smart phone as they cross a virtual ‘geo-fence’. They will be presented with any risks to review and acknowledge before signing in. Risks can be updated by the farmer in real time, and visitors can report new risks or incidents on their phone. All information is stored in the cloud avoiding the need for mountains of paperwork. The system also has offline capability, so can be used by farmers in areas with poor cellular service.

OnSide’s clever mapping technology allows farmers to map out farm boundary’s and use photos rather than written descriptions to show risks. The app also allows anyone on the farm to quickly and easily access instructions for emergencies in real time.

“We’ve been listening to farmers, collaborating with H&S experts and leaders in the rural sector, as well as our technology partner, Jade Software to ensure OnSide meets farmers’ needs. We’ve spent months conducting on-farm research and have run a trial with fifty farmers, as we’ve brought our vision to life,” says Higgs.

Jade’s Chief Innovation Officer John Ascroft says that it has been exciting working with OnSide, a team of innovative leaders with a clear vision of simplifying health and safety compliance.

“Our design experts worked with OnSide to flesh out their idea and rapidly prototype models of how the app could work. From there our delivery team built the production version of the software, and our business and marketing teams kicked in to create a compelling brand identity and market presence for OnSide.”

Jade’s unique value of providing a true end-to-end service made it easy for OnSide to bring its idea to life, according to Higgs, who says the team’s knowledge and expertise has been invaluable through the entire process.

View the iTWire article here.

Posted by Ryan Higgs

Ryan has a science and farming background and has held various innovation roles in the dairy sector. Ryan’s interest is in developing a practical tool that makes rural health and safety management easy.

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