The New Zealand Department of Labour (DoL) has announced a period of public consultation on its OHS guidance on the safe use of off-road vehicles. The process will include a review of “Safe Use of ATVs on New Zealand Farms: Agricultural Guideline” publication.
“is looking to extend this publication to apply to the agricultural, forestry and adventure tourism industries.”
There is a potential for a considerable broadening of OHS issues but this may be hampered by the scheduling of the public consultation. The DoL public commentary period closes on February 13 2010. Both Australia and New Zealand are in Summer holiday mode and many companies are closed down for several weeks in January or operate on a skeleton staff. SafetyAtWorkBlog has commented on this trend for short consultative periods over the Christmas break previously.
The DoL is looking for information in the following areas:
- “broaden the scope of the document to include the forestry sector and to include a range of farm vehicles
- include the amendments to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 that came into effect in May 2003;
- reflect current good practice operating in within the agricultural and forestry industries in New Zealand;
- ensure that the guidance material provided around this issue is consistent with other New Zealand documents; and
- reflect recent New Zealand and international research to ensure that New Zealand guidance documents reflect international best practice.”
Curiously the DoL differentiates between “good practice” and “best practice”. Which one equates to compliance?
The last bullet point has the greatest potential for a bunfight between quadbike safety advocates and bike manufacturers. New Zealand has already had experience with this conflict and is well-placed to balance the arguments. The issue of quadbike safety has continued to be one of having to judge between conflicting evidence and it can be said that the NZ inquiry will be lively.
The competing evidence being discussed in Australia seems to have reached the stage where the value and integrity each other’s evidence is being disputed. This process is important to ensure valid findings from the evidence but to a large extent the dispute is also distracting from the big picture of making the use of the vehicles less harmful.
More information of the New Zealand DoL public consultation is available online.