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Workers' and others' duties
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Workers' and others' duties

Worker duties

A worker is an individual who carries out work in any capacity for a business or undertaking. This includes:

  • Employees
  • Contractors/Sub-contractors
  • Employees of labour hire companies
  • Apprentices or trainees
  • People doing work experience or work trial
  • Volunteer workers


Workers must:

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • take reasonable care that what they do or do not do does not adversely affect the health and safety of other people
  • cooperate with any reasonable workplace health and safety policy or procedure that has been notified to them by the business or undertaking
  • comply, so far as reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction given by the business or undertaking, so the business or undertaking can comply with HSWA and regulations.


Other people at a workplace

Examples of others in a workplace include:

  • Visitors to a workplace (eg courier drivers, clients, suppliers, people on tours of the workplace)
  • Customers
  • Any public who could come into contact with a business’ work activity
  • People at a concert
  • Casual volunteers (not volunteer workers).


Other people at a workplace have their own health and safety duty to:

  • keep themselves safe and not cause harm to others
  • follow any reasonable health and safety instructions given to them by the business or undertaking.


Volunteer workers

Certain volunteers are classed as volunteer workers. A volunteer is a ‘volunteer worker’ when:

  • they work for a business or undertaking who knows they are doing that work or has given consent for it to be done, and
  • the volunteer does the work on an ongoing and regular basis, and
  • the work is an integral part of the business or undertaking.


You are not a volunteer worker if your work is:

  • participating in fundraising
  • assisting with sports or recreation for an educational institute, sports club or recreation club
  • assisting with activities for an educational institute outside its premises or
  • providing care for another person in the volunteer’s home (eg foster care).


Businesses and undertakings owe the same duties they owe to workers to volunteer workers – except for worker engagement and participation duties. Although volunteer workers are not covered by these duties, they can still raise health and safety concerns with the business or undertaking.

Volunteer workers have the same duties as other workers.


Last updated 19 May 2016


[image] Introduction to HSWA - special guide

Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA): Special Guide

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of HSWA - New Zealand's key health work and safety law and its regulator - WorkSafe New Zealand.