President's Blog 6/10/21

By NZISM Secretary


At the end of last month the Government announced changes to the Health and Safety Regulations including the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: Plant, structures and working at heights. The intent being they will clarify and provide greater certainty for businesses on the Regulations, while supporting safety and health of workers. And they have produced a rather concise summary of the key changes covering plant and structures that makes good lunch time reading.

Like many of you, we have all seen plant and equipment imported from overseas or resold in New Zealand with inadequate guarding, unsafe design, or even basic operational information. So I was particularly interested in how regulatory changes might improve this area.

What I do like, and think will be of benefit to us, aligned with Australian Model Regulations, is the minimum required information that is to be shared across the supply chain. We don’t always do enough of this, and in many cases tend to rely on ‘having a play’ to work out the nuances of newly bought equipment.

The proposed changes include sharing of:

  • critical safety information
  • information about the faults in second hand plant to the person being supplied the plant
  • information provided by upstream businesses, or the instruction of a competent person
  • information to designers about the reasonably foreseeable risks and hazards at the workplace where the plant or structure will be used

Notably, second-hand plant supplied ‘as is’ will be excluded from the supplier duty, and I do wonder if this will be used as the catch all for all second hand equipment to avoid these requirements.

These changes of course sound simple and sensible, however, I can foresee that there will be some challenges not only from an enforcement perspective but also in practical application. For example:

  • what about parts of plant and equipment, rather than the whole?
  • Are we expecting this information across the lifetime of plant, from commissioning to decommissioning?
  • Where does technological advancements or modifications sit in the scheme of things?
  • Perhaps even considerations in recycling and reuse.?

I also suspect that, as a small nation, we hold limited power and numbers to influence overseas suppliers of the plant and equipment that we want buy, to provide said information.

Regardless, there is an opportunity to improve in this area, and the proposed changes will certainly push both sellers and purchasers of plant and equipment to consider how they might develop and share this information. While it seems like a small step, this coupled with some of the other proposed changes, I believe will help us reduce the frequency and severity of harm we have seen in the past.

If you're looking for more detail, Chapter 4: Upstream duties (p.96) is a good start.

If you wish to contact me, please do so by email at

Ngā mihi nui,