Which safety certification? ESR 2010 (NZ)

Recently we have been receiving many enquiries from electricity generators and electricity distributors in New Zealand enquiring about safety certification options to comply with the requirements of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010. As there seems to be confusion around this issue we thought we would put together this brief news article to help the industry out.

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What are the requirements?

In 2010 the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 (link to regulation) came into force and this required every electricity distributor that owns or operates an electricity supply company (as identified in the Electricity Act 1992 above) to have their safety management system audited by an accredited auditor (Conformity Assessment Body). An accredited auditor is deemed to be a certifier accredited by JASANZ for safety management. There are a number of certifiers in NZ that meet that requirement.

Clause 51 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 give the organisation two options as audit criteria, these are:

  • NZS 7901 – A public safety standard developed in NZ by a committee made up of government and non-government organisations.
  • Requirements set out in clauses 49 & 50 of the regulations – these were written by NZ government as part of legislation.

Pros and Cons of options?


 

Electricity generators and electricity distributors claim that they are led to believe that they require certification to the NZS 7901 standard, they don’t realise they have another choice which in our opinion is more favourable. NZS 7901 is an oddball standard basically created to cater for industries with assets out in the public domain. We find this extremely strange as all the other recognised health and safety management system standards like OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801 already address these issues as part of their requirements. Standards like OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801 require that organisations have procedures for hazard identification, hazard/risk assessment and control of hazards/risks of activities, products and services over which they have control or influence including contractors and suppliers.

So basically organisations that already met OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801 felt like they were led to believe they needed on NZS 7901 on top of what they already had. This has increased compliance costs hugely to cover a new certification scheme that most of them did not need if they already had OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801 certification. Many electricity generators and electricity distributors now have two audit regimes each year for no extra business benefit. If a company has OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801 certification they DO NOT NEED NZS 7901 CERTIFICATION, they can simply request a certificate from their certifier to satisfy clauses 49 and 50 of the regs (option 2 below). This is based on the fact that OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801 address more than clauses 49 and 50.

If you are an electricity generator and electricity distributor and you have an audit to NZS 7901 and also another health and safety standard like OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801 then you should be asking questions to your certifier.


Meeting the requirements in clauses 49 and 50 is already covered if you have a health and safety management system in place because you will already have procedures for hazard identification, hazard/risk assessment and control of hazards/risks of activities, products and services over which you have control or influence over including contractors and suppliers.

If you are an electricity generator and electricity distributor and you have an audit to any health and safety standard like OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801 then you should be in full compliance anyway. These standards cover over and above the requirements listed in clauses 49 and 50 of the regs.

As per the requirements of clause 52 of the ESR 2010 the certifier simply issues a certificate that states that the organisation complies with “regulations 51(1)(a) to (c)” of the ESR 2010. We have clients that are electricity generators and electricity distributors that have chosen this option for years and they cannot understand why anyone would chose to be audited to NZS 7901 voluntarily.

If you wish to read more about this issue check out the page on our website about the electricity and gas distribution sms.


You do have a choice?

As you can see above you do have choices. Ensure you always make informed decisions and don’t just follow the others.

If you require any information or more specific details about the topic of this article please feel free to contact our Auckland Head Office or you can e-mail oliver@intlcert.com directly.


 

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