Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
Farmer Dobson owns a large farm near Opunake. At any one time, Farmer Dobson may have Worker Bob, Contractor Sue, Camper Campbell, Meter Reader Rory and Surfer Sam on the farm.
What are Farmer Dobson's obligations in respect of these people under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992?
Generally, Farmer Dobson as an employer must take all practicable steps to ensure that Worker Bob:
- Is provided with a safe working environment.
- Is provided with facilities for his safety and health.
- Uses safe machinery.
- Is aware of and not exposed to hazards while working.
- Is aware of the procedures to deal with an emergency which may arise.
- Is trained and supervised.
Farmer Dobson needs to take all practicable steps to ensure that no contractor, subcontractor or employee of Contractor Sue is harmed while carrying out any given job.
This duty does not extend to residential work undertaken by Contractor Sue. In practical terms, this could mean alerting Contractor Sue to the hazards on the farm and requiring her to follow health and safety procedures in place.
Camper Campbell (a paying visitor of the farm)
Farmer Dobson has a duty to take all practicable steps to ensure that no hazard that is on the farm, or arises from the farm, harms a paying visitor such as Camper Campbell.
Meter Reader Rory (authorised visitor)
If Farmer Dobson is aware of any significant hazard that is on the farm, which arises from work on the farm, and which is not reasonably expected by an authorised visitor like Meter Reader Rory, Farmer Dobson will have a duty to warn Meter Reader Rory of those out-of-the-ordinary hazards. An example of an unexpected hazard would be a tree felling operation.
Surfer Sam (recreational visitor)
If Surfer Sam has not obtained prior permission to cross Farmer Dobson's farm, Farmer Dobson will not be liable for any harm suffered by Surfer Sam.
However, if he has obtained Farmer Dobson's permission to cross the farm, Farmer Dobson's duty to Surfer Sam will be the same as to Meter Reader Rory, ie, to warn him of any out-of-the-ordinary hazards.
The Health and Safety in Employment Act clearly aims to promote the prevention of harm to all people at work (employees and contractors), and others in the workplace (visitors).
However, the duty of an employer varies depending on to whom it is owed.
The onus to ensure the workplace is safe is clearly greater in relation to an employee than a recreational visitor.