The Health and Safety at Work Strategy sets out the Government’s approach for driving improved performance across the health and safety system.

WorkSafe has a key role in working with others across the system to translate the Strategy’s vision and priorities into action.

Health and safety cuts across every sector, whether it be transport and construction through to forestry and the natural resources and energy sector. It also impacts and is impacted by other regulatory systems, such as the labour market, education, health and the environment.

To progress towards our goal of New Zealand being one of the best-performing countries on health and safety, change must be collectively driven by everybody with an interest and influence on work. Sectors, unions, businesses, workers and government all have a fundamental role in lifting the performance of the health and safety system.

As system leader, WorkSafe reports on New Zealand’s progress towards the health and safety at work system targets.

Our external context shapes and influences the health, safety and wellbeing of workers

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Ensuring everyone in the system has a unique role to play in lifting the capability and performance of health and safety at work
Annual report 2018-19 - Collective working diagram (PDF 319 KB)

Performance against system targets

New Zealand has made significant progress in reducing work-related harm since the Pike River tragedy, but the rates of work-related injuries are still high by international standards.

The official figures released in October 2018 suggest that progress in reducing deaths and serious injuries has stalled.1

It is imperative that we continue to improve but this is not a challenge that WorkSafe and other regulators can meet alone. Participants in the system must commit to it and work collaboratively to achieve change. WorkSafe is committed to building and supporting enduring and effective partnerships to enable industries and sectors, from boardroom directors to workplace Health and Safety Representatives, to take ownership and lead the culture and system of work changes required to make the country’s workplaces safer and healthier.

Reduction in fatalities and serious harm

Commitment is required from everyone to reduce levels of harm further.

Fatality rates: on track (36% below baseline) 

Serious injury rate: on watch (11% below baseline)

Week away from work rate: not on track (6% above baseline)


Catastrophic harm

Predictive modelling using 23 countries similar in size and development to New Zealand suggests we could expect 8 deaths from catastrophic events over an average 5-year period.

No catastrophic events in 2018/19

Asbestos related-deaths

Modelling suggests New Zealand is at the peak of mesothelioma deaths. A reducing trend in fatalities is not expected until at least the 2020s.

Currently in line with predictions

(1072 mesothelioma deaths in 2015, target ≤ 44 by 2040). 

Reduction in energy-related fatalities

Our rates are very low by international standards. To maintain current rates we need to build in health and safety thinking from the beginning.

Electricity fatality rate: trending down
LPG fatality rate: trending down
Natural gas fatality rate: trending down


1 WorkSafe reports progress towards the system targets with the data that was reported in the financial year in question, rather than the latest available results at time of publication. The latest data at the time of publication is available on the Stats NZ website(external link).

2 More up-to-date data was provided by the time this annual report was published. It shows that there were 82 deaths recorded in 2016.