18 Nov Is It Fit For Purpose?
The recent accident and fatalities at DreamWorld in Australia could well have consequence here in NZ. From one of the many news items, there were two statements that you should take note of if you are in business. The first being that the police were treating the accident as a crime scene, and the second that the incident was to be investigated to identify if the ride was fit for purpose.
Could this happen in NZ? I believe it could, as our new Health and Safety is modeled on the Australian law.
So what does fit for purpose mean to a business?
A dictionary definition – something that is fit for purpose is good enough to do the job it was designed to do. European law dictates that goods must be fit for purpose when sold.
A layman’s definition:
- If you are prepared to pay top dollar for a top-of-the-line BMW, then you would expect quality, safety features, and performance and that it fits your purpose;
- If you are only prepared to only pay X amount for a small Japanese import, you would also expect it to perform to your expectations and still be fit for purpose.
It’s what you are prepared to pay and to perform as per your expectations of safety, quality and use.
Fit For Purpose and Health & Safety
This term is now becoming more prevalent in the world of health and safety, and with the introduction of the Health And Safety at Work Act. This term and the associated responsibilities of businesses who design, manufacture, import, supply or install fixtures, fittings, plant, substances or structures are now been defined in the Act. What is interesting is that these responsibilities had previously been set out in the 1995 H&S regulations. The reasons for this shift of emphasis were the Pike River disaster and the collapse of the CTV building in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake when 115 people lost their lives. It’s now all about accountability with the health and safety impacts and considerations having to be built into the design through to installation and commissioning. The recent Hastings District Council ruling on a 2015 farm incident is a prime example when a vessel that was not fit for purpose was used for a use for which it was not originally intended.
A Prescribed Person
This is another new term in H&S vocabulary and means “where a regulation requires that a prescribed person is to be used, they must be used”. E.g. a qualified electrician, or a qualified or certificated welder. This was emphasised with dire consequences when a landlord self-installed a secondhand gas stove into one of his rentals, which resulted in his tenant inhaling gas fumes and died. Although this is a different event, the lesson to be learnt from this is that if you have a welding job that is critical for the safety, structure or integrity of any machinery or equipment, this will require the expertise of a registered and competent welder. My recommendation is to hire in the skill because if you do it yourself and it goes wrong, you or your business then face the consequences.
The Design of Equipment
The prosecution this month in the Hastings District Court that found the Kiloran Land Company Ltd guilty for failing to put a risk management system in place, is another example of the question of machinery being fit for purpose. The use of spray tanks that are being fitted to quad bikes have become common practice. The question has to be asked, are quad bikes designed to carry these spray tanks, and if so, were the tanks designed with weight restrictions to not cause displacement and to cause the bike to roll on sloping terrain? There are a number of other contributing factors to this tragedy, but the key issue is equipment being fit for purpose.
If you have any equipment in your business that has been changed or modified, check it against a known standard to ensure it is safe and fit for purpose for what it was originally designed to do.
For any questions regarding how the Hasmate program can make asset compliance and maintenance recording and reporting easy for your business, please contact us today.