Tuesday 7 August 2018

Food Safety

Under the Food Act 2014, schools may now be required to register as a national programme or to register a food control plan if they sell food. Schools were given until 30 June 2018 to meet the requirements – but if you've missed the deadline, there's no need to eat humble pie. We're sure you've had a lot on your plate! If you don't know beans about what you need to do, just read our explanation below. It'll give you food for thought. 

First things first, all food provided by schools, whether it's sold or not, must meet food safety guidelines. Food must be safe to eat and have been prepared in a hygienic environment.

If schools sell food, they may also be required to register as a national programme or to register a food control plan. Note that food for sale includes food provided as part of the service of paid breakfast, after-school, and holiday programmes. However, if the food is provided to students by an external agency, it's their responsibility to register under the Act.

Food is divided into three types:
§  If you sell pre-packaged shelf-stable food bought from another company, you don't need to register but you must ensure that the food is safe and suitable.
§  If you sell reheated, chilled, frozen, or repackaged food, you need to register as a national programme.
§  If you sell your own prepared or cooked food you need to register a food control plan. 

Selling food as part of a fundraising activity is different, as the requirement to register depends not only on the type of food, but how many times you've tried to sell food:
§  Pre-packaged shelf-stable food does not require registration, e.g. confectionery sales.
§  Reheated, chilled, frozen, and repackaged food, or food prepared or cooked at home or at the school (e.g. for bake sales or sausage sizzles) can be sold up to twenty times per year without registration.

To be clear, the calculation of 'twenty times per year' relates to the organising body of the activity. If some fundraising activities are organised centrally by the school and others are organised by individuals or groups, then each organising body can fundraise without registration up to twenty times. If an organising body sells food as part of a fundraising activity more than twenty times a year, they need to register under a food control plan or a national programme, depending on the type of food sold.

For more information see Education NZ's helpful links and guidelines, and for details about what to do if you need to register as a national programme or register a food control plan, see the Ministry for Primary Industries' Food Act page, which will link you to guidance tools and templates. Schools that need further help with the registration process are advised to contact their local council for support or email the Ministry for Primary Industries at info@mpi.govt.nz.

That's it in a nutshell. Good luck with your next steps – we hope it'll be a piece of cake!

Tuesday 10 April 2018


The purpose of identifying asbestos in buildings is to prevent, or if this is not reasonably practicable, minimise exposure for workers and other people on the premises. To achieve this, PCBUs need information about whether asbestos is, or is likely to be, present in the buildings. This will help the PCBU assess the risks it presents and work out how to manage those risks.

The Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 now require the principal and the board as a PCBU to consider and then survey the presence of asbestos across their site if they know, or should reasonably know, that asbestos is present. If asbestos, or asbestos containing materials (ACMs), are found to be present, an asbestos management plan is required. Further, whenever property work is planned which will involve either the demolition or partial demolition of existing structures, or remedial building work that will disrupt existing buildings, then the presence of asbestos must be considered.

If situations exist where the presence of asbestos, or ACMs, is considered possible or likely, then a survey by suitably qualified persons must be completed.

An asbestos survey will:
  •         help the school manage asbestos in the workplace
  •         provide accurate information about the location, amount and condition of asbestos and ACM
  •         help decide if remedial action is required

The survey information is used to prepare a record of the location of any asbestos, as well as an asbestos management plan for the workplace. The asbestos survey also identifies all the asbestos and ACM that needs to be removed before starting refurbishment or demolition work. Complete guidance to the required actions relating to the identification and removal of asbestos are laid out in detail on the Worksafe website.

Asbestos Management Plan
When a survey by a qualified person has identified the presence of asbestos or ACMs the following records are completed:

         ·            Identification, location, condition, quantity, and monitoring plan for any ACM is recorded in the school’s hazard register
  • Where the asbestos has been identified - specific location, including building element and elevation, e.g. Classroom 2, Block C, external cladding, external elevations
  • How you plan to manage the asbestos risks (remove it, encapsulate it with a false wall or paint, leave it alone as it is in good condition, etc) and the reasons for those decisions
  • What procedures you will follow when work is to be undertaken
  • How you will record incidents or emergencies involving asbestos
  • A timetable for managing asbestos exposure risks considering priorities and dates for removal, reviews, circumstances and activities that could affect the timing of action
  • A timetable for reviewing and revising the asbestos management plan and asbestos documentation within five years
  • All information recorded is shared with contractors working on site
The Ministry of Education has a template for the creation of an Asbestos Management Plan.

Note: If asbestos is present and it is confirmed that the condition of the material will either pose a risk to health in its current form or if it is disturbed as a result of work about to commence, the work area should be isolated immediately and appropriate warning signage displayed until the risk has been effectively managed.

Asbestos Containing Materials
Large amounts of Asbestos Containing Materials, (ACMs), were used for a wide range of construction purposes in new and refurbished buildings until 2000. This means there are many buildings in New Zealand that contain asbestos or ACM. If the ACM is in good condition, and unlikely to be disturbed, it may not present a significant risk. However, if the ACM is in poor condition, disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibres are released into the air. If breathed in, these fibres can cause serious lung diseases, including cancers.

Workers who disturb the fabric of buildings during maintenance, refurbishment, repair, installation and related activities are exposed to asbestos every time they unknowingly work on ACM, or carry out work without assessing and managing the risks.