Alert: Notifications and correspondence during COVID-19 restrictions

We are operating at reduced capacity due to the COVID 19 Alert Level Two requirements. Find out more about how to correspond and notify us during this time.

You might also hear from us as we proactively call businesses about how they're operating safely during Alert Level Two. 

Our expectations of businesses that have PECPR equipment, and those dealing with hazardous substances during Alert Level 2.

Compliance certifiers, equipment inspectors, and inspection bodies operating during Alert Level 2

Under Alert Level 2 compliance certifiers, equipment inspectors, and inspection bodies can operate if they can do so safely. Whilst we expect many to be working, some may choose not to do so.

We expect them to:

  • Protect their own health and safety and continue to meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Think about working differently if possible. For example, by working from home where possible.
  • Only provide services to sites that have self-determined they are safe to operate.

Our expectations of businesses that have PECPR equipment with an expiring, or expired, certificate of inspection

We expect businesses with equipment subject to the Health and Safety in Employment (Pressure Equipment, Cranes and Passenger Ropeways) Regulations 1999 to comply with those regulations.

Some businesses may have equipment with certificates of inspection that expired during Alert Level 3 or 4, or are due to expire during Alert Level 2.

If the equipment is not being used, we expect it to be shut down for the duration of Alert Level 2, if it is safe to do so. 

If the equipment needs to be used, where reasonably practicable, we expect businesses to obtain a certificate of inspection if required. 

If certification is required businesses must consider the following matters:

  • Is a certifier available, and can the certifier safely attend the site?
  • Are maintenance personnel available, and can they safely attend the site? 
  • Is maintenance up-to-date?

If, due to Alert Level 2 circumstances, inspection is delayed or cannot be safely undertaken we expect the PCBU to consider, as a minimum, the following;

  • Are safety critical devices operational, and if so,
  • Are control systems checked and verified and/or
  • Are safety valves tested and operational?
  • Have there been any problems with the equipment during the certification period?
  • What is the risk if the equipment fails?
  • On balance, is the equipment safe for continued operation?

We expect clear, accurate and comprehensive documentation of these considerations to be started, maintained, and available for inspection by anyone in that workplace, including an equipment inspector or certifier. This documentation should also be available for a WorkSafe inspector. 

Where businesses are satisfied they have done all that’s reasonably practicable to obtain certification – but are delayed in doing so solely due to Alert Level circumstances – the equipment may remain in service until inspection and re-certification services are available. This is on the basis that the equipment remains safe to use. We would like businesses in this situation to inform WorkSafe they are doing so at technicall@worksafe.govt.nz  

Our expectations of businesses with hazardous substances

We expect businesses with hazardous substances to comply with the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substance) Regulations 2017. This includes compliance certification, where the regulations require you to have compliance certificates.   

Compliance certificates can only be issued by WorkSafe authorised compliance certifiers and for many certificate types the compliance certifier must visit the site.

Some businesses’ compliance certificates may have expired during Alert Levels 3 and 4, or they may be due to expire during Alert Level 2. 

During Alert Level 2 there may be some initial delays in obtaining a compliance certificate due to the availability of compliance certifiers to verify regulatory compliance.

If, as a direct result of these initial delays, you are unable to renew your certificate or obtain a conditional location certificate (see below) you may need to hold and use the hazardous substance(s) for a short period without certification in place. During this period, we expect you to:

  • comply with the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 in all other respects, and
  • review your operations against the prescribed requirements for obtaining certification, and
  • ensure your operations have remained compliant, and
  • document that review, and
  • ensure the documentation is made available on request to a compliance certifier or a WorkSafe inspector, and
  • renew the compliance certificate as soon as possible.

We recommend you develop a checklist to help you document your review. If you are unable to develop a checklist, contact your compliance certifier who may be able to help you remotely.

The ‘check list approach’ must not be used after 11 June 2020. By this time we expect the initial delays in obtaining the services of a compliance certifier will have been worked through. If issues still persist we will review this date in light of available certification capacity.

Conditional location certificates

Where a compliance certifier is asked to issue a location compliance certificate during Alert Level 2, and they are not able to visit the site or organise a site visit through another compliance certifier, they may consider issuing  a conditional location certificate in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 if:

  • the compliance certifier has visited that specific site for the immediately preceding certificate, and
  • there has not been any significant change at the site, and
  • the compliance certifier has records of the site (Emergency Response Plans etc.), and
  • the site has not changed ownership since the preceding certificate was issued.

By 11 June 2020, we expect the initial delays in visiting sites to issue location compliance certificates will have been worked through. Conditional location compliance certificates must not be issued after that date without a site visit.

Our approach where a compliance certificate is a pre-condition for supplying hazardous substances

In some circumstances, a compliance certificate is a pre-condition for a supplier delivering hazardous substances to a site (e.g. delivery to a stationary container system). We acknowledge that not all sites may be able to obtain a compliance certificate immediately due to the availability of compliance certifiers.

In this circumstance we are taking a similar approach to the one set out in our policy clarification on existing LPG installations

This means during COVID-19 Alert Level 2, we’re unlikely to prioritise enforcement action against either the installation business or the business supplying hazardous substances to those installations as long as the only reason the installation PCBU has not obtained a certificate is due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on certifier availability. If we do decide to take action, our response will reflect the risk gap.

If you are delivering a hazardous substance to another business and they do not have a current compliance certificate due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on certifier availability, you should ask to see the documented review the business will have done (see Our expectations of businesses with hazardous substances).

Our approach for transit depots that can’t clear hazardous substances consignments within the statutory period

We’re aware that because of COVID-19 Alert Levels some hazardous substances sent via transit depots (including ports) may be unable to be cleared within the statutory 72 hour period.

During COVID-19 Alert Level 2, we’re unlikely to prioritise enforcement action against the transit depot holding the hazardous substance through to 11 June 2020, as long as the COVID-19 Alert Level is the only reason the substance is being held for longer than 72 hours. If we do decide to take action, our response will reflect the risk gap.

Transit depot PCBUs who need to hold hazardous substances for longer than 72 hours due to circumstances directly associated with the COVID-19 Alert Level must continue to comply with all other requirements for transit depots set out in regulations, including:

  • for hazardous substances loaded on road vehicles, that the minimum separation distances are maintained between compatible and incompatible substances
  • for hazardous substances held in a transit depot but not loaded on a vehicle, that the separation distances are maintained between compatible and incompatible substances, which for ports may be as set out in the Regulations or in accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code.

After 11 June 2020, WorkSafe expects all requirements to be met. If issues persist after this date then we will discuss these with transit depots before identifying the best way to address the issues.  

Manage the risks associated with re-starting your business

If you are re-starting your business with hazardous substances or recommissioning equipment that has been shut down, you will need to:

  • identify the associated risks with doing so, and
  • how you will mitigate them.

More information about re-starting your business is available our Operating safely at Alert Level 2 what you need to think about page.