NZAID projects started to require a higher level of OSH compliance about two years ago, and this threatened to affect how local businesses were eligible for NZAID funded projects and tenders. A discussion was started around updating our OSH regulations.
Even though our current OSH regulations are brand new (in the legislative sense anyway), encapsulated in the ERA 2012, a view pervaded that we require separate OSH legislation. New Zealand offered to fund a review and subsequent drafting and implementation of legislation. This process is being managed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
There was an initial view that the New Zealand regulations could be adapted here. There seemed to be little awareness of the issues in the New Zealand system and administrative burden that would produce to a small nation such as ours.
We at the Chamber worked very hard through the Tripartite Committee on labour to ensure the Terms of Reference were focused on developing OSH legislation that is fit for purpose in our environment, and that the review also comprehensively covered ELI and Workers Compensation schemes. Finally we were also adamant, that unlike the ERA 2012, any OSH law must also be applicable to government and SOEs.
The Chamber was successful in having all these requests included in the current review.
From our sessions with the consultants so far, they seem very open and genuine in their desire to recommend a system that is suitable for the Cook Islands. However, ultimately how they treat our comments and input will not be known until we see their reports.
The Chamber of Commerce recognises that we do not represent the view of every individual business, and we encourage any person who wishes to have input, to attend one of the consultation meetings or contact INTAFF and set up a meeting with the consultants, either in person or over the phone.
The more information they have the better informed they will be.
Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce