It is a a Kiwi rite of passage to go and help at a family member’s place of work during the school holidays to earn extra money and job experience. A lot of us have fond memories of working alongside older family members and learning the skills of their trade over the summer. However, it is important to know the laws and regulations regarding minors on work sites and ensure that they are kept safe. Generally, a young person under the age of 15 cannot be in the following areas or do work involving:

• Manufacturing
• Construction
• Logging or tree felling
• Hazardous substances
• Any area or work that is likely to cause harm to a young person

They also cannot:
• Work with machinery
• Drive a vehicle or ride on a vehicle with something attached.
• Do work that requires lifting heavy weights
• Work between the hours of 10pm and 6am

( There are some exceptions to the above rules. For example, young people over 12 can  drive a tractor for agricultral purposes if trained. Be sure to check the specific regulations for your industry)

A young person 15 and older must still have the necessary site induction, training and PPE required for the workplace. They should also be supervised until deemed competent. Young people often are not as aware of potential hazards and risks in the workplace due to lack of experience. They can be over-confident in their abilities and eager to please, thereby willingly taking on tasks that they might not be competent to carry out independently and putting themselves at risk. As a PCBU you have the responsibility to provide a healthy and safe environment for young workers assessing and addressing the possible risks and ensuring the workplace remains a safe for them. You should also educate any young person working for you of their responsibilities to do the following while at work:

• take reasonable care for their own health and safety at work
• ensure they don’t adversely affect the health and safety of others
• ear the PPE provided to them
• comply with any reasonable instructions
• cooperate with any reasonable health and safety policies and procedures.

Let’s look at some examples of how the above can be applied in real life.

Chris the builder has two children 16-year-old Ally and 14-year-old Lachy. His children want to spend the summer helping with a new build he is undertaking. After assessing the risks Chris decides that due to his age Lachy would not be able to come on site and work. Ally would be able to but she would have to be inducted like anyone else coming onto the site, would have to have the required PPE that fits correctly and, until trained and deemed competent, would only be able to undertake work under direct supervision that is considered safe and appropriate for her age. To include Lachy Chris arranges to take him on several supervised tours of the worksite when hazardous work is not underway and teach him some construction skills at home in preparation for the following summer when he will be old enough to work on site.

Michelle is a contract courier. Her 13-year-old son Jesse wants to help her with deliveries over the Christmas break. After accessing the possible risks Michelle decides that Jesse would be able to ride with her and accompany her on deliveries provided he is not left unattended in the vehicle with keys, wears the same PPE she does, is not made to carry heavy packages, and does not accompany her out of the vehicle onto sites his age excludes him from being on.

Sam is the manager of a small ice cream factory. His children 15-year-old Liam and 12-year-old Amelia want to work in the factory to earn money over the holidays. After a discussion of the risks with his production manager Sam allows Liam to work in the production line as trainee under the supervision of the production manager. He must undergo the same induction and training as other trainee production workers. Due to her age Amelia is not able to safely work in the plant so he arranges for her to work as an assistant to the office manager, helping with administrative work in non-production areas of the factory. He arranges for the plant manager to take her on a guided tour of the factory so she can see how the production process works.

Health and safety rules for young workers is not about excluding them; it is about identifying and managing risk effectively so they can take part in a safe and appropriate way.

For further information about having young people in the workplace
Worksafe guidelines for young people in the workplace
Useful poster summarising what work young people can and cannot do
Employment NZ guidelines for employing young people

Special Thanks to Lachlan for providing photos of someone who has a few more years to go before he can go to work with Dad

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires that tasks on site be carried out by a competent person. This seems simple enough but what exactly is a competent person, how do you know if all your staff are competent to do their tasks, and how can you prove your staff are competent?
WorkSafe defines a Competent Person as the following:

Competent person A person who has acquired through training, qualification, experience or a combination of these, the knowledge and skill enabling that person to correctly perform the required task.

There are differing levels of competence depending on the skill and experience required to perform a task and the amount of risk and responsibility in the task. Let’s look at the levels of competency and how they may apply in your workplace.

Licensing/ Registration

Certain trades require ongoing licensing and registration to carry out restricted work such as builders, plumbers, gas fitters, and electricians. You should be aware of the licencing/registration requirements of your staff and when it is due for renewal. There are serious legal and financial consequences for businesses and individuals who carry out restricted work without the relevant licensing. It can also be dangerous to those on site and to the customer as the work may not be completed to a safe standard. Be aware that organisations such as Certified Builders and Master Builders are not registered licensing agencies. It is possible for a person to have a membership in these types of organisation without the licencing required to carry out restricted work.

Most licenced trades will require an underlying qualification but there are many unlicensed positions that also require qualification to be considered competent. Qualifications include certificates, diplomas and degrees. Qualifications should be issued by a registered training provider such as a polytechnic or industry training organisation. There are some dodgy organisations offering unrecognised qualifications, so it is important to check where your staff gained their qualifications to ensure they are up to the required standard. Some international qualifications may be accepted in New Zealand but often, because of differences in standards and regulations, parts of the qualification may need to be redone locally. If you are unsure if a staff member’s qualification is up to standard you can find out by contacting NZQA or the registered training organisation who administers that qualification in New Zealand.

Most other tasks that don’t require licencing or qualifications can be acquired competency through training. Training can take two forms, formal or informal. Formal training is offered by training providers such as Site Safe (construction site skills and safety) and Red Cross (first aid), or by individual companies for training on specific tools such as Ramset for (powder actuated tools). Formal training usually expires after a certain length of time and needs to be repeated so it is important to keep good records and know when your staff are due for retraining.
Informal training takes place on site. This can take the form of inductions, toolbox talks, SOPs and one on one training. It is important to record this form of staff training so you have evidence that your staff are competent in the tasks they are performing. It is good practice to regularly go over informal training topics with staff so you know they are performing the tasks up to standard and to keep them up to date with any changes in equipment or procedures.

Keeping Track of It All
Keeping track of your staff’s competency can seem like a huge task but Nailed It Safety Solutions can help keep it simple and 100% in compliance with your Health and Safety responsibilities. We can assist you in the following areas, keeping your time free to focus on the job at hand.

• Recording and updating training records for your staff.
• Reminders when licensing or training is due for renewal.
• Assess what levels of training and qualification your staff require for the tasks they perform.
• Review staff training and qualifications to ensure it is all up to date and up to standard
• Assist in arranging formal training with reputable training organisations.
• Work with you to develop onsite training and SOPs for required tasks.

Let us keep your Health and Safety simple. Contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your health and safety needs with one of our experienced Health and Safety consultants.

If your company uses a harness then you probably have a good idea why. If a worker falls without protection then it’s all over. Unfortunately, we’ve been noticing a disturbing trend of incorrectly anchored harnesses.

At Nailed It Safety, we’re a big fan of good signage. After all, safety is all about good communication and warning visitors to your site of dangers is a part of your responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Here are 3 of the best. Enjoy!