Is your golf club aware of new health and safety rules?

By Andrew Whiley
A voice from the south

Last month a new health and safety legislation came into force in New Zealand.
The new legislation will have an affect on your golf club and the role of governance at your club. Are you and your golf club aware of what these changes are?
In a recent issue, a golf course had a major concern about the potential for it to be held liable if someone who was not playing golf, but on the golf course, was struck by a ball.
The club claimed this was a grey area.
“I can assure you there is no grey area,’’ said Worksafe communications general manager John Tulloch.
“There is nothing in the health and safety at work act that will prevent golfers enjoying a round or members of the public strolling/jogging on public access ways across courses.’’
Mr Tulloch went on to say: “Under the new act, businesses would have a duty to workers and other persons – which in the case of a golf course could include members of the public – in a workplace to manage risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
“A pretty basic way for a golf course to manage risks in a way that met the reasonably practicable threshold would be to put up signage, alerting people to the fact they were traversing a golf course, and to be aware of players hitting balls.”
Asked if Worksafe was concerned about people misinterpreting the new act, Tulloch replied: “The health and safety at work act is all about what businesses, owners and workers can do to improve workplace health and safety.”
As I write this column, I believe many golf clubs around New Zealand are already working with Health and Safety professionals to ensure they are fully compliant.
Health and Safety governance is as important as any other aspect of governance. It is a fundamental part of an organisation’s overall risk management function, which is a key responsibility of club directors.
It is important to remember that an organisation’s primary duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers which extends beyond it’s own workers to all workers whose activities they influence or direct (including subcontractors and volunteers).
What this then highlights is the importance to have good governance.
Does your golf club have the right people in leadership roles that understand these issues and how they are an integral part of their role?
In board minutes there should now be a regular update on health and safety issues and the club should pride itself on the safe work environment and culture it has.
On the other side of the equation, the days of three old fellas and a ute volunteering to take down a tree for fire wood without all the safety gear and proper equipment are long gone.
In reading this column, please consider two key factors.
Firstly, don’t stand for a governance role at the club without understanding the compliance factors and the knowledge required to fulfil the role.
Secondly, that life around your golf club will change for the safety and benefit for all involved. Health and safety will be a key ingredient of a successful golf club this year and what golf club doesn’t want to provide the best environment for their staff, volunteers, members and green fee players?