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Safe Work Instruments

Safe Work Instruments (SWI) are a type of subordinate instrument (sometimes called tertiary legislation). As a regulatory tool, SWIs were introduced with the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). They are developed by WorkSafe and approved by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.


What are they for?

Safe Work Instruments can be used for a range of purposes under HSWA, but only have legal effect if they are specifically referred to in Regulations. Under the Hazardous Substances Regulations they will be used to:

  • Prescribe detailed or technical matters that change relatively frequently and will often be industry-specific
  • Set additional or modified workplace requirements for hazardous substances approved or reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
  • Provide an alternative means of complying with a regulation or regulations.


What will be covered in the safe work instruments?

Two types of SWIs relating to hazardous substances will be in place when the Hazardous Substances Regulations come into force in December 2017:

  • Those that replace HSNO Codes of Practice (these provide alternative compliance options). This will ensure that businesses now compliant with hazardous substance regulations under a HSNO Code of Practice will continue to be compliant under HSWA.
  • Those that continue some workplace controls set in individual substance approvals made by the EPA.
  • Those that continue industry specific requirements.

The first Safe Work Instruments will cover:

  • Polyethylene above ground stationary tanks for diesel fuel
  • Management of pre-2006 stationary container systems up to 60,000L
  • Filling of below ground petrol tanks by pumping
  • Design and construction of above ground stationary tanks to ULC/ORD-C80.1-2000
  • Action taken in relation to disused below ground tanks on farms
  • Markings for pipework connected to above ground stationary tanks
  • Reduced secondary containment for certain above ground stationary tanks
  • Specification of standard relating to non-refillable  containers
  • Thermoplastic stationary tanks
  • Above ground stationary tanks connected to a generator set
  • Above ground rotationally-moulded polyethylene tanks
  • Additional and Modified requirements for specified Class 6 and 8 substances
  • Requirements for charging LPG cylinders other than by Approved Fillers
  • Requirements for specified fumigants


Can I have a say in what’s in the Safe Work Instruments?

Yes. SWIs will be publicly consulted on before they are finalised. Consultation has closed on the first 12 listed above.

Consultation on the following two SWIs opened on Monday 16 October 2017 and will close at 5pm on Friday 27 October 2017:

The consultation timeframe is shorter than usual to ensure these are available by 1 December 2017 and because:

  • We have previously consulted on the SWI Requirements for specified fumigants and we are re-consulting on a specific substance recently approved by the EPA and requirements that need to apply to the substance under HSWA.
  • The SWI for Requirements charging LPG cylinders other than by Approved Fillers is targeting the LPG industry specifically and we are seeking comments from that industry in particular.

They will be available on the WorkSafe New Zealand consultation web pages. As SWIs are often highly technical they will be of most interest to specific industries.


What are my compliance obligations for SWIs?

As mentioned above, a SWI is a type of subordinate instrument (sometimes called tertiary legislation).

Where a SWI sets alternative or modified requirements to those in a regulation:

  • relevant PCBUs must comply with all the requirements of the SWI
  • compliance with the SWI is treated as compliance with the regulation; and non-compliance with the SWI is treated as non-compliance with the regulation.

Where a SWI sets additional requirements to those in regulations, the PCBUs specified in the SWI must comply with the additional requirements.


Other HSNO codes of practice

There are currently 63 approved HSNO codes of practice.  SWIs are not needed to replace all of these for various reasons, such as they:

  • don’t deal with workplace issues
  • consist mainly of guidance and will become WorkSafe guidance documents
  • have been made redundant because their requirements are included in the Hazardous Substances Regulations.


Last updated 17 October 2017

Hazardous Substances Regulations

This page relates to the new Hazardous Substances Regulations that will come into force on 1 December 2017. Until then the current Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act remains in force in its current form.