The New Zealand Mining Board of Examiners and Secretariat recognises the impact that the COVID-19 restrictions may have had on Certificate of Competence (CoC) holders and have worked with WorkSafe on ways to assist those affected.

The restrictions and their effects have changed over time and will potentially change further as the Government’s pandemic response is expected to remain in place for some time.

The following current issues have been identified:

  • many regular continuing professional development (CPD) activities have been cancelled or postponed which may affect a CoC holder’s ability to meet their CPD requirements
  • there were limited or no opportunities to attend first aid refresher courses or obtain certification of documents in Alert Levels 4 and 3
  • face to face oral exams were suspended in Alert Levels 4 and 3
  • the scheduling of face to face oral exams in Alert Level 2 may not be permitted or difficult to arrange.

CPD requirements

New CPD requirements came into force on 1 February. This was done to provide flexibility to CoC holders to manage CPD requirements over the five-year period of their CoC. We recognise that some CoC holders were relying on that flexibility and available CPD activities this year to fulfil their CPD requirements.

The cancellation or postponement of many CPD activities this year has meant CoC holders may find it difficult to reach their CPD requirements if they apply for a CoC renewal in the next 18 months.

It was recognised that the impact would be most felt by CoC holders due to renew their CoC this year and next. The new flexible CPD requirements means all other CoC holders will still have enough opportunities to complete CPD requirements.

We would like to remind CoC holders that:

  • many organisations are providing CPD activities that can be attended or completed during COVID-19 restrictions such as webinars from MinEx(external link) and IoQ(external link)
  • reading relevant publications and listening to relevant podcasts are a restricted CPD activity that may be useful to help CoC holders meet their requirements. If a CoCs’ CPD requirement is 60 hours, 10 hours can be claimed of reading or podcasts. If 120 hours is required 20 hours can be claimed. As it is difficult to provide evidence for reading and podcasts, we will accept thoughtful and well written key learning as the only evidence required.
  • many operations may have taken the time during lockdown to develop or formally review critical health and safety documents which is an unrestricted CPD activity. If a CoC holder has significantly contributed to this work, which could include a COVID-19 management plan, this may qualify as CPD if it is supported by verifiable evidence and a well written key learning.

CoC holders should refer to the CPD Guidelines for further information about their CPD requirements and CPD activities.

Exemption from CPD requirements

Exemption from the CPD requirements can be considered by WorkSafe. WorkSafe has agreed CoC holders with a CoC expiry date between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021, can apply for an exemption for up to 20% of their CPD requirements - if:

  • they meet all other renewal requirements, and
  • they have taken up every opportunity available to complete CPD requirements, and
  • the reason they couldn’t complete their CPD was directly caused by COVID-19 and its impact.

For example, as long as you meet all the above criteria, if your CoC requires 60 hours of CPD you can apply for exemption of up to 12 hours. Likewise, if your COC requires 120 hours of CPD you can apply for exemption of up to 24 hours.

All CoC holders eligible to apply for an exemption already have a reduced CPD requirement due to the transitional arrangement for new CPD. If an exemption is granted, the reduction of up to 20% of total hours will further reduce eligible CoC holder CPD requirements.

For example, a B Grade Quarry Manager with a CoC that expires in November is required to demonstrate they have completed 35 hours instead of 60 hours through transitional arrangements. If they are granted an exemption from 20% (12hrs) they would need to demonstrate they have completed 23 hours of CPD.

Exemptions are granted under section 220 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). When considering whether to grant an exemption WorkSafe takes into account:

  • what is required under HSWA and the relevant regulations
  • the information received from the applicant
  • what is in section 220 of HSWA
  • principles in its Exemptions Policy, including what other options available. In this case this means WorkSafe will consider whether an applicant has taken every opportunity to attend or participate in CPD activities that are available
  • whether it is appropriate to grant an exemption.

A CoC holder applying for an exemption will be required to explain:

  • the reason why COVID-19 has prevented the CoC holder from meeting their CPD requirements
  • what steps the CoC holder has taken to undertake CPD opportunities that are available during COVID-19 restrictions.

The exemption application will be considered by WorkSafe on a case-by-case basis and the decision to grant or decline the exemption will be made by WorkSafe’s Chief Executive. All granted exemptions are published on the WorkSafe website and in the Gazette.

The Board believes most CoC holders will be able to achieve sufficient hours of CPD to renew their CoC and any application for exemption should be considered a last resort.

A CoC holder must complete the CPD exemption application form and submit with their renewal application.

PDF
Application for exemption from CPD requirements due to COVID-19 (PDF 59 KB)

Renewal of first aid certificates

A certified copy of a current first aid certificate is required for a CoC renewal application.

There have been limited opportunities to attend a first aid refresher course during Alert Levels 4 and 3. This may affect some CoC holders due to renew their CoC in the next few months.

We strongly advise all affected CoC holders to urgently arrange refresher course attendance to ensure they have a current first aid certificate to present with their CoC renewal application.

If this is a serious problem for a CoC holder they should get in touch with the Board Secretariat as there maybe the option of applying for an exemption.

Certification of documents

Those applying for or renewing CoCs are required to submit certified copies of some documents.

We are confident that while it was difficult during Alert levels 4 and 3, there will be sufficient opportunity in Alert Level 2 for applicants and CoC holders to certify any documents required for their applications.

If for any reason an applicant believes that they will be unable to meet this requirement they should contact the Secretariat immediately to discuss the issue.

Oral exams

Oral examinations were suspended during the COVID-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3. At this stage it is unclear how Alert Level 2 restrictions will impact forming of examination panels for oral exams.

We are trialling the use of technology to conduct oral exams via video. It is likely that in Alert Level 2 applicants will attend their oral exam at a WorkSafe office, with a WorkSafe staff member in attendance to ensure a secure examination environment. This will be done in accordance with all public health requirements, including physical distancing.

The applicant will be connected to a video conference where panel members and the Secretariat will be in attendance via video. The oral exam will follow the same format as for face to face oral exams with panel members asking scenario based questions.

If the trial is successful further oral exams may be scheduled via video conference.

We acknowledge that sitting an oral exam via video conference may be stressful, and relies on the technology working well. Applicants will be supported with using the technology.

Face to face oral examinations will resume once it is safe and practicable to do so. Applicants may choose to wait to sit their exam in person if they prefer.

Contact us for more help

If you have any questions about Certificates of Competence, Continued Professional Development or anything else relating to the New Zealand Mining Board of Examiners, please contact our Board Secretariat Team who are happy to help:

Phone: +64 4 901 4980 or

Email: BoE_Secretariat@worksafe.govt.nz