New legislation, aimed at reducing New Zealand's workplace
injury and death toll is expected to come into force in April
next year. Yvonne O'Hara looks at the impact on the
The New Zealand agrichemical industry will face significant
changes under The Health and Safety Reform Bill which has
been introduced to Parliament.
The Bill will create the new Health and Safety at Work Act,
replacing the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. The
Bill is part of ''Working Safer: a blueprint for health and
safety at work''.
Working Safer is aimed at reducing New Zealand's workplace
injury and death toll by 25% by 2020.
In a recent speech to the Agcarm conference in July, Minister
for the Environment Amy Adams said Environmental Protection
Authority (EPA) surveys showed there had been significant
non-compliance issues with the Hazardous Substances and New
Organisms (HSNO) Act.
She said up to 900 people died every year from occupational
diseases, including many thought to be from exposure to
hazardous substances in the workplace.
Graeme Peters, chief executive of industry body Agcarm, said
as part of the new legislation the Government was looking at
removing the approved handler regime, which was put in place
10 years ago, and replacing it with an Australian model.
He said the Government was also considering introducing a
compulsory product stewardship scheme for agrichemicals,
animal health products and their containers.
There will also be some ''tidying up'' of the EPA's roles and
the HSNO Act. These include giving the EPA new powers to
become an enforcement agency under HSNO to ensure
manufacturers and importers meet packaging and labelling
The approved handler regime was brought in to ensure people
who bought agrichemicals had sufficient training to handle
them and oversee others.''
At present if a person wants to purchase some hazardous
chemicals from a local distributor, or use some sprays in a
wide, dispersive manner, they have to show their
''The Government has said they don't think this is working
and it wishes to adopt an Australian model.''
He said one of the reasons for the change was to ensure the
person in charge of a business or operation was ultimately
the person responsible for ensuring that business met health
and safety and training requirements - managing the health
and safety risks rather than the hazards.
Under the new legislation, that person would have to ensure
their employees were trained in handling, use, storage,
disposal and transport of agrichemicals.
Those who sell the agrichemicals also needed to know the
person buying them was trained properly.
He said the approved handler regime was a ''one-size fits
all'' approach, where in reality, in some situations the
approved handler certification training was not fit for
purpose and set to a ''default level''.
As an example, a spraying contractor needed a higher level of
training than a ''squirter'' - a dairy worker who sprayed
less hazardous chemicals and used a knapsack occasionally.
Following ''vigorous'' discussion, the Agcarm board decided
to support the change.
Mr Peters said if the approved handler regime was replaced
with training to suit specific requirements, then it was
likely courses tailored for the different levels of
agrichemical use would be introduced by Growsafe and other
''I do not think there may be any extra costs for training to
meet the requirements.
''But then what price do you pay for keeping people safe?''
Another change is likely to be the introduction of compulsory
schemes for product stewardship so that all agrichemical and
animal health product manufacturing companies take
responsibility for their plastic containers and unused
About 60 manufacturing companies belonged to the voluntary
Agrecovery programme, which recycled containers and imposed a
levy on its members, which was recoverable from the consumer.
Companies that did not belong to the scheme did not pay the
levy and did not need to pass it on to agrichemical buyers.
''By making it compulsory that all agrichemical companies be
part of a scheme like Agrecovery, it will level the playing
''We would like local and central government to really push
farmers and growers to recycle and recover their plastics.''
Agcarm is also supporting a nationwide campaign to raise the
awareness of the importance of all agrichemical users using
the necessary safety equipment.