This policy sets out how we decide whether to intervene once we’re aware of a work health and safety or energy safety risk or harm.
This policy’s purpose
When we intervene sets out how we decide whether to intervene once we’re aware of a work health and safety or energy safety risk or harm.
This policy doesn’t cover:
- how we choose which intervention to take, or
- how we carry out our interventions.
When we intervene should be read alongside our How We Intervene policy.
What an intervention is
An intervention is any activity we carry out to:
- prevent harm
- alter a course of events
- improve a situation or prevent it from getting worse, or
- change behaviour.
Our interventions include – but aren’t limited to – programmes, guidance and education, marketing campaigns, inspections, investigations, and enforcement.
Our regulatory focus
We’re the primary regulator for work health and safety and energy safety in New Zealand. We target our interventions toward risk and harm that’s occurring at work and in workplaces, and through the supply and use of electricity and gas.
We focus on the:
- health and safety of workers and workplaces
- health and safety of other people put at risk bywork activities, and
- safe supply and use of electricity and gas, including consumer safety and property safety (only for our energy safety legislation).
How we decide when to intervene
We receive thousands of notifications and health and safety concerns each year. We have finite resources, so we need to be deliberate about choosing when to intervene.
When we become aware of a risk or harm, we make an initial decision about whether to intervene by testing it against our four decision-making criteria.
We only intervene when all criteria are met. (Criterion 2 doesn’t need to be met if it’s not applicable.) This means we won’t intervene in most of the notifications and health and safety concerns we receive.
Our criteria are:
1. The risk or harm sits within our responsibilities
The legislation we administer sets the parameters for our responsibilities and provides our mandate for interventions.1
2. We’re best placed to intervene if there’s an overlap with another agency’s responsibilities
Our responsibilities overlap with other agencies that also have health and safety responsibilities.2
To decide whether we’ll intervene when there’s an overlap we:
- assess the significance of the risk or harm, and
- identify whether the underlying issues are likely to involve either work activities or energy safety.
- it’s not clear to us which agency is best placed to intervene, we discuss this with the other agency, agree on an approach, and record our decision
- we decide we’re not the best agency to intervene, we’ll tell the notifier which agency to contact, and record our decision
- the best placed agency is already investigating or has investigated a matter, we’re unlikely to intervene unless that agency asks us to do so.
We have a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with other agencies. Our MOUs provide guidance on when each agency will intervene. Where a MOU exists, we’ll follow it.
This criterion only needs to be met when there’s an overlap with another agency’s responsibilities.
3. The significance of the risk or harm means it warrants intervention
When we’re considering whether to intervene, we assess
the significance of the risk or harm. The factors we
- a risk’s urgency and its consequences
- the degree of risk caused by a duty holder’s actions or inactions
- whether it’s part of a pattern of harm or poorly managed risk
- whether it’s of high public interest and expectation, or
- whether it’s a strategic focus area.3
When we’re considering whether to intervene on a wide scale, we’re more likely to intervene when the risk or harm is within a strategic focus area.
4. Intervening is an effective use of our resources
We’re likely to intervene when doing so will:
- benefit as many people as possible
- prevent harm or help create sustained improvement in work health and safety or energy safety
- be the best use of our resources when considering the commitments we’ve already made for other work
- help us achieve our strategic outcomes, or
- help maintain public confidence in how we manage our regulatory responsibilities.
We may make an initial decision not to intervene basedon the information we have at the time. But if we receive new information later, we’ll check back against the criteria to see whether we should intervene. We may also make an initial decision to intervene and subsequently decide to stop it.
We record our decisions about:
- whether or not we intervene,
- changes to previous decisions, and
- stopping an intervention.
How we find out about risk and harm
We find out about risk and harm through:
- notifications and health and safety concerns
- information sharing with other agencies in New Zealand and other countries
- our research and analysis
- media reports, including social media
- our people’s local knowledge and insights, and
- consultation with stakeholders, including third parties.
What we do with the information we receive
Our legislation requires businesses and services4 to notify us about certain events, and people have the option of informing us about health and safety concerns. This provides us a valuable source of information about risk and harm. We use the information we receive to develop insights into how best to intervene to prevent harm and to improve risk management across our work health and safety and energy safety system.
FAQs about when WorkSafe will intervene
1. Why isn’t WorkSafe intervening for my notification or health and safety concern?
Our legislation obliges businesses and services to notify us about certain events. Individuals can also choose to inform us about health and safety concerns. No matter how we hear about an event or a concern, we have the discretion to decide whether to intervene.
Our resources are finite, so we are selective about what we focus our resources on. We apply four decision-making criteria before deciding whether we’ll intervene in a notification or health and safety concern. All four must be met before we intervene. This means it’s likely we won’t intervene for an individual incident.
2. What happens to information I provide in my notification or health and safety concern?
Information from notifications and health and safety concerns is anonymised and used to develop insights into how best to intervene to prevent harm and improve risk management. This includes information from individual incidents that don’t meet our criteria for intervention.
3. Does WorkSafe intervene for all injuries caused to visitors to workplaces?
No. If the injury was caused by a work activity it may fit within our responsibilities. Whether we intervene depends on the significance of the health and safety risk and whether our four criteria are met. If the injury occurred at a workplace but wasn’t directly caused by a work activity we won’t intervene because this doesn’t fit within our responsibilities.
4. A business delivered me a faulty product or service so why isn’t WorkSafe intervening?
Energy Safety is part of WorkSafe and regulates safe supply and use of electricity and gas in New Zealand. We deal with direct gas or electricity safety issues with a product, such as unsafe electrical adapters. We do not deal with product issues relating to other faults or quality.
A range of agencies have responsibilities depending on the product or service, and Consumer Protection(external link) is a good starting point to find out which agency can best help you.
For public services such as road repairs and footpath maintenance, your local council may be the best placed agency to contact.
5. When does WorkSafe intervene in incidents at motorsport events?
When we find out about someone being harmed at a motorsport event, we first consider if there were any PCBUs (businesses and services) involved. Many motorsport events are run by motorsport clubs that may be considered volunteer associations. Volunteer associations do not have health and safety duties under HSWA, as they are not PCBUs.
If the motorsport event is being run by a PCBU, it must make sure the health and safety of workers, spectators, and participants is not at risk from work.
If there aren’t PCBUs involved and the harm wasn’t directly caused by a work activity, then we won’t intervene because this doesn’t fit within our responsibilities.
If there are PCBUs involved, we consider if the harm was directly caused by a work activity. We also consider how much influence and control the PCBUs have over what caused the harm. And the significance of the risk that caused the harm. Whether we intervene depends on the significance of the health and safety risks and whether our criteria for intervening are met.
1 Our legislation includes: Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), Electricity Act 1992, Gas Act 1992, and associated regulations.
2 This includes but isn’t limited to: Maritime NZ; Civil Aviation Authority; Waka Kotahi NZTA; Environmental Protection Agency; Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority; Fire and Emergency NZ, Commercial Vehicles Safety Team in NZ Police; Ministry of Education; local councils
3 Our strategic focus areas and strategic outcomes are set out in our Statement of Intent and Statement of Performance Expectations.
4 And the appropriate person, in the case of electricity and gas legislation