CCNZ submission on MBIE Review of Plant, Structures, Working at Heights and Excavations

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Civil Contractors New Zealand made a submission on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Review of Plant, Structures, Working at Heights and Excavations.

Key points from the submission are as follows:

CCNZ is generally supportive of the proposed changes. The following comments overview CCNZ’s submission:


  • The regulations have, in the past, created a very simple bottom line. This is probably where they should remain – further detail needs to be left to Industry Best Practice Guides (e.g. the Excavation Safety Guideline).
  • We need to ensure the rules are clear and flexible enough to allow for innovation.
  • Writing new regulations will not make things safer. The key is how we get culture change on site.
  • Given the above, it is important that we support safety in design and have minimum standards for plant and equipment (Question 4.3).
  • Bringing in requirements about using a risk-based process is good practice. This should already be happening. We support this being included in the regulations (see 3.1 and 7.1 below).
  • We support the removal of arbitrary thresholds (e.g. excavations over 1.5 metres require fencing or working at over 3 metres requires scaffolding) in favour of a risk-based approach in all circumstances. (questions 6.9, 6.10,7.3 and 7.4).
  • There will be cost implications within the industry as well as increased costs for hiring plant and equipment. These costs will need to be passed onto and accepted by the clients and appropriate funding made available. Some companies may be unable (or willing to) upgrade or retrofit plant especially if it is older. SME’s with few resources or large contractors or fleet owners such as hire companies will need time to make the changes. We would recommend a reasonable transition period be included. (questions 2.29 and 3.23).Excavation
  • Regulations creating an explicit duty to obtain current underground services information before excavation work commences are supported. It is good practice and is already included in the National Code of Practice for Utility Operators’ Access to Transport Corridors (the Code) which is a legislated requirement under the Utilities Access Act 2010. (Question 7.10)
  • There should be an explicit duty in the regulations requiring asset owners to make available to contractors the most up to date and accurate underground service information they have available at no cost.
  • CCNZ supports the introduction of a formalised risk management and industry-based competency requirements.
  • CCNZ supports the removal of the requirement to notify excavations over 1.5 metres deep to WorkSafe. (Question 7.1)
  • CCNZ supports removing the 1.5 metre threshold for shoring and fencing (Question 7.3 and 7.4) as the need for this will be determined by the risk assessment. In some conditions and situations shoring and fencing will be required at depths less that the current thresholds.
  • Excavation competency standards for workers and supervisors should not be regulated due to the wide range of competencies required depending on the site, type of machine and type of excavation. Industry based competency has been developed and should be utilised and part of the risk management. (Question 7.9)
  • Excavators are often used to lift items such as pipes into trenches. There is also an increasing range of attachments that enable the operator to use the excavator to undertake tasks such as boring holes, moving and placing rocks or logs. It is important that the regulations do not limit these operations which, along with excavation work, need to be undertaken only after a formal risk assessment and application of a hierarchy of controls. (Question 2.9 and 2.15)Protections for People working with Plant
  • We recognise that a key killer in plant, especially excavators, has been the operator not wearing the fitted seat belt.
  • We support and acknowledge the dangers of carrying passengers in plant not designed for passengers. However, when a person is in training or under instruction in some instances the safest place for the trainee or instructor (when they are not at the controls) is in the cab or on the machine. We would suggest that passengers be prohibited unless the passenger is an instructor, or a trainee and that active training is underway. (Question 3.12)
  • Remote or automatically energised plant. CCNZ supports additional controls in regulations for industrial robots and other remotely or automatically energised plant. Drones are already controlled by other legislation. The Australian rule appears sound and capable of dealing with different solutions and risks. (Question 2.20)
  • Lasers. CCNZ agrees Class 3B and 4 Lasers that are harmful to eyes should be strictly controlled or prohibited from use in the construction industry. The civil construction industry uses lasers including pipe lasers (to check levels and fall), tunnel guidance lasers, laser levels and survey lasers etc. These lasers are not generally harmful to eyes. (Question 2.23)

    Design, manufacturing, importing, supplying and installing plant and structures
  • It is important for us to support safety in design and have minimum standards for plant and equipment (Question 4.3)
  • NZ is a small market and we import most of the equipment so to a large extent we need to align with what is happening internationally. (Question 4.10)
  • We don’t want to have to modify quality imported plant and equipment to meet standards that are out of step with the rest of the world unless there is good reason to. On the other hand, we don’t want to be a dumping ground for inferior products.

Read CCNZ’s full submission below:

MBIE Reg Review Final

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