What You Need to Know About New Zealand’s Health and Safety in Work Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act of 2015 protects New Zealand’s employees from health and safety issues. WorkSafe New Zealand implemented the act on 4 April 2016.

The Act resulted from concerns that the system for work health and safety was failing, brought forth in 2013 from the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety. New Zealand leaders got to work to create the most significant workplace health and safety reforms in 20 years. This change established WorkSafe New Zealand and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). 

The Act’s basis is on Australian work health and safety law, with some changes based on the needs and environs of New Zealand. 

What Does It Do?

HSWA implements the belief that a successful health and safety system depends on leadership, participation, and accountability by businesses, government, and workers. The Act lays out the duties, principles, and rights regarding workplace health and safety. 

HSWA’s basis is on the idea that workers and others need the highest level of protection from workplace health and safety dangers. This idea relies on a team effort of all employers and workers. 

The principal purpose of HSWA is to give a balanced framework that secures the health and safety of workers and workplaces by:

  • protecting workers and other persons from harm to their health, safety, and welfare by taking away or minimising risks related to work
  • providing for effective and fair workplace consultation, representation, cooperation, and resolution of problems
  • encouraging unions and employer organisations to acquire a constructive role in highlighting advancements in work health and safety procedures and working with PCBUs and workers to obtain a healthier and secure working environment
  • promoting the provision of information, advice, education, and training regarding work health and safety
  • securing cooperation with the Act with adequate and appropriate cooperation and enforcement procedures
  • ensuring proper scrutiny and reviewing actions performed by persons doing functions or exercising privileges under the Act
  • providing a framework for consistent advancement and increasingly higher guidelines of work health and safety.

6 Key Changes

HSWA changes the focus from monitoring and recording health and safety incidents to being proactive about managing and identifying dangers to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

1. Responsibility

HSWA gives everyone responsibility in the effort to keep health and safety measures in place. A person can have more than one responsibility. The responsibilities aren’t transferable, but businesses can arrange reasonable methods to make sure the duties get met.

These responsibilities include:

  • Businesses are responsible for their employees’ health and safety and all other employees connected or directed to them. They are also responsible for the health and safety of people at risk from the work of their business.
  • Officers (company directors, partners, board members, chief executives) must do due diligence to ensure the business comprehends and meets its health and safety responsibilities. 
  • Workers have to take care of their health and safety, and their actions don’t affect others’ health and safety. They have to follow any reasonable health and safety instructions they receive from the business and abide by any recent business policy or action related to health and safety in the workplace.
  • Other people who spend time in the workplace, like visitors or customers, are also responsible for some health and safety actions to make sure their actions don’t impact others’ health and safety.

2. Manage the Risks You Create

HSWA requires the management of all employment-related health and safety issues. Consideration for the potential of employment-related health issues and risks for injuries. Health conditions might include physical and psychologically acute and chronic illnesses.

3. Factors to Consider

The primary duty of care requires someone conducting business or undertaking to make sure health and safety ‘so far as is reasonably practicable‘ is undertaken. 

In this context, businesses act, if it is reasonably able to be performed, to ensure health and safety, having weighed and considered all relevant issues, including:

  • How likely are any dangers or risks to occur?
  • How severe is the harm which could result from the hazard?
  • A person knows or might reasonably know about the risk and ways of removing or diminishing it, such as eliminating the source of the threat or implementing control measures, such as isolation or physical controls, to minimise it. 
  • What steps exist to remove or diminish the risk or control measures?
  • What are the availability and suitability of the control measure(s)?

As a part of this process, the business must weigh the cost:

  • What is the price of removing or diminishing the risk?
  • Is the cost extremely disproportionate to the trouble?

4. Broad Coverage

HSWA’s design is for all businesses and actions. 

Legislation’s design is to be multi-purposed and work for small and large businesses and actions without unnecessary compliance costs.

The work health and safety legislation:

  • reflects modern working and business relationships
  • places responsibilities on those who cause risk and are ranked to manage it
  • provides for employee participation and giving health and safety information
  • Has statutes that include specific requirements for certain duties
  • integrates the management of workplace use of dangerous substances
  • has a responsive enforcement regime.

WorkSafe acts as the work health and safety regulator. WorkSafe could designate other government agencies (called designated agencies) to perform health and safety functions for specific work, for example:

  • Maritime New Zealand has ships listed as workplaces, and employees perform work aboard ships
  • Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) work to prepare aircraft for upcoming flight and operational aircraft.

The HSWA covers most employees, with few exceptions. These include:

  • Armed Forces members performing an operational activity
  • civilians working for the support of Armed Forces overseas in a location of functional activity
  • any military aircraft or naval ship performing an active action.

5. Focus on Work

Under HSWA, the conduct of work and how it affects workers applies to most duties. Some responsibilities relate to the physical workplace (where someone goes or likely goes while at work) and any location where work gets performed—for example, a vehicle, aircraft, or other mobile structure. 

6. The Goal

Workplace health and safety isn’t just about the law and compliance; it’s about ensuring the establishment of workplace health and safety precautions in New Zealand business practices. 

HSWA is a reform package that seeks to minimize the amount of serious work-related injuries and deaths by 25 percent or more by 2020. Health and safety are about teamwork to keep each other safe. People should go home from work healthy and safe. It’s good for business, and it’s the moral thing to do. 

Contact Us for More Info

NZ Survivor can complete workplace audits, assessments and training based on the unique needs of your business, location and teams. We supply full product lines for Civil Defence & First Aid Cabinets/kits exclusive to NZ Survivor. We also offer team talks / training for our business customers. NZ Survivor manages your emergency stock expiry dates for free over the term of our relationship and charges no annual management fees. Check out NZ Survivor today to ensure that you and your employees are prepared for any situation.

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