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Safety Management Systems for Public Safety - Interim Audit Tool (Compliance Guide)


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The Electricity Act 1992 and Gas Act 1992 (both as amended in 2006) now require companies in New Zealand engaged in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the distribution of gas to have developed, implemented and be maintaining a safety management system (SMS) that will ensure that their electricity generation and distribution systems and gas supply systems will not pose a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public or significant damage to property owned by persons other than the company.

For companies in the electricity supply industry, the first audit of their SMS must be carried out by 1 April 2012 and a statutory declaration, certifying that an audit certificate is in place, must be made within six months of the first audit. For companies in the gas supply industry, the first audit of their SMS must be carried out by 4 May 2013, with a similar requirement for the statutory declaration.

NZS 7901:2008 “Electricity and Gas Industries – Safety Management Systems for Public Safety” (the Standard) was written to outline the content of a SMS that would, when implemented, be considered to be compliant with the public safety requirements in both Acts. While the Standard might be considered to be largely self-explanatory and contains informative Appendices intended to assist any user to comply with its normative content, EEA and GANZ, in consultation with their industries, developed further information during 2010 to assist companies to follow the Standard’s requirements and gain the necessary approval for their individual SMSs. This information was published in November 2010 as an electronic based Tool Kit in the form of comprehensive informative spread sheets and a Handbook with text, diagrams and tables based on the outputs from the industry workshops held in July 2010. Both the Guide and Tool Kit publications are also available on the EEA Website.

A key compliance requirement includes a third party audit of the Public SMS. Accordingly, we engaged Telarc, a certification body accredited by JAS-ANZ, to develop, in consultation with industry representatives, the Interim Audit Tool. The Interim Audit Tool is attached.

This publication sets out a risk management matrix, information, advice, typical key questions and a recording format, complete with provision to record the results of risk assessments. These will be of assistance to any person who is called upon to audit SMSs designed, developed and implemented to be in compliance with NZS 7901. In particular, it should be noted that auditors may withhold or withdraw certification of any SMS where they are of the opinion that there are sections for which compliance is not sufficiently attained. They may also draw attention, for reference during future audits, to areas within the SMS where opportunities for improvement exist.

The Audit Tool (May 2011) has been finalised as an Interim document and we expect there to be on-going development of this document as EEA/GANZ receives feedback on its application.

The content of the Interim Audit Tool will be reviewed periodically with the objective of finalising the document, preferably by the end of 2011.

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