New Zealand Law Society - Three new books on the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

Three new books on the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

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The new regimen for health and safety at work has introduced a number of important changes. These include the establishment of a “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking” (PCBU) as well as identification of the duties now placed on officers or workers, to name but a few. Important changes and lawyers working in any field may feel they need to find out more.

Three books on the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 have arrived on the booksellers’ shelves in the last two months and perhaps these ought to find a place on law firms’ shelves as well.

Health and Safety at Work Act: A Practical Guide

By Heather McKenzie

This is exactly what it says it is – a short and concise practical guide with notifications of updates and changes in the law of health and safety. A go-to book for a brief overview, McKenzie’s book takes the refreshing approach of “talking to you” as opposed to “talking at you”. Including an excellent description of scope of changes, the book finds a harmonious balance between content – including why changes came about and providing a summary of changes which have occurred.

A useful guide and concise at only 134 pages, plus an index and appendix detailing background to the reforms, the book provides a summary of the following topics: definitions of key terms, duties of duty holders, notifications and record keeping in the work place, work participation and representation, and a useful synopsis of regulations as well as codes of practice and safe work instruments.

Importantly the book encompasses enforcement tools, offences and penalties including legal proceedings and sentencing. An excellent book for those requiring a concise overview of the health and safety law, I highly recommend it.

LexisNexis NZ Ltd, 978-1-927313-24-4, March 2016, 148 pages, paperback and e-book, $75 (GST included, p&h not included).

Health and Safety at Work in New Zealand: Know the Law

By Rachael Schmidt-McCleave and Stacey Shortall

Next in the range of new health and safety books is Rachael Schmidt-McCleave and Stacey Shortall’s book. This work provides us with an overview of relevant changes and has more detail in comparison to McKenzie’s book. It is laid out clearly with an index, and a table of contents and legislation. The book also provides a handy table of documents including web links to the location of the documents on the internet. Included in the list are documents such as the Construction Section Action Plan 2010-2013 and other important fact sheets, as well as a plethora of other important documents which will facilitate lawyers’ informed practice.

The book provides an invaluable resource for all practitioners and makes a conscious effort to offer useful comparisons between the 1992 Act and the 2015 Act. It satisfactorily answers questions relating to definitional usage of terminology, and incorporates useful analysis of important and up-to-date cases. I highly recommend this book for those practitioners needing more than a summary overview of the topic.

Thomson Reuters Ltd, 978-0-947486-01-3, April 2016, 266 pages, paperback, $110 (GST and p&h not included).

Tooma’s Annotated Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

By Michael Tooma

Finally, the heavyweight of the three books is Tooma’s annotated work. At 652 pages and full of useful information, Tooma’s book is an excellent and comprehensive resource for everyone in the practice of health and safety law, but its utility is further reaching than that. I recommend this book for anyone dealing with health and safety law or even policy.

The book effectively encompasses the entire Act and provides comments on each section. Tooma provides analysis in a grey boxes located after the entry of a section number from the Act. Books of this sort are a beneficial aid for those using or referring to the Act in their practice by offering insightful statutory interpretation with an excellent assessment of cases. Tooma’s analysis is careful to keep within both the legislative ambit of interpretation of the Act as well as shed light on certain provisions of sections by referring to the complexities which have arisen in previous cases.

I learned much from the book and especially enjoyed Tooma’s relaxed, readable and easily comprehensible writing style. The approach adopted by Tooma is both insightful and wise. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Incorporating a subject table, comparative tables between the 1992 and 2015 Acts as well as a table of statutes/regulations, the book comprehensively covers the entire Act.

Thomson Reuters New Zealand Ltd, 978-0-947486-37-2, April 2016, 652 pages, paperback, $166.50 (GST and p&h not included).

I have no hesitation in recommending all three books. McKenzie’s book is a comprehensive introduction to the subject and ought to be read by everyone, irrespective of practice area. Schmidt-McCleave and Shortall’s book is a balance between summary approach and providing a concise overview of important cases, and should make its way to all practitioners’ shelves who deal with health and safety at work. Tooma’s book is the heavyweight with exceptional utility and analysis of the Act.

All three books offer unique insights at their respective levels of detail and should serve the reader well depending, of course, on how much you want to know about the subject!

Dr Maria Pozza is a consultant lawyer with Christchurch law firm Helmore Ayers.

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