Answers to general questions about the Health and Safety at Work Act.

In short, everyone:

  1. The business itself – a new legal concept is a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU). A PCBU will usually be a business entity, such as a company, rather than an individual. The business will have the primary duty under the new law to ensure the health and safety of workers and others affected by the work it carries out.
    That’s why the business may also need to consult with other businesses where it shares a worksite or are part of a contracting or supply chain, to make sure all workers are safe and healthy.
    Learn more about PCBUs
  2. Officers – includes directors and other people who make governance decisions that significantly affect a business. Officers have a duty of due diligence to ensure their business complies with its health and safety obligations.
  3. Workers – must take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others, and to comply with the business’s reasonable instructions and policies.
  4. Other people who come to the workplace, such as visitors or customers, also have some health and safety duties. It’s all about taking responsibility for what you can control.

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) shifts the focus from monitoring and recording health and safety incidents to proactively identifying and managing risks so everyone is safe and healthy.

This might not necessarily mean major changes to your day-to-day operations, but it’s the business’s duty to think about who may be affected by its business. This includes workers, contractors, customers and visitors.

Your business will also need to engage your workers in health and safety matters and implement effective participation practices to allow workers to contribute to health and safety on an ongoing basis.

Learn more about worker engagement and participation.

Your business needs to proactively identify and manage its health and safety risks, and make sure information about health and safety is shared with workers, and workers are engaged in matters that could affect their health and safety.

Use these tips to get your health and safety processes on the right track:

  • Identify health and safety hazards and risks, and take steps to prevent these from happening.
  • Make sure health and safety in your business is led from the top, has involved and is understood by your staff, and is reviewed regularly.
  • Hold regular training on health and safety matters.
  • Engage workers in health and safety matters that affect them.
  • Support all officers to get up to date with health and safety issues and key risk factors.
  • Report and monitor health and safety goals.
  • Regularly review any incidents.
  • Carry out frequent health and safety audits.

We have a problem in this country. Too many New Zealanders die or are seriously hurt while working. In comparison with other similar countries, our workplace health and safety record is woeful. Every year:

  • 52 people die on the job
  • hundreds more are seriously injured, and
  • an estimated 700-900 people die from work-related diseases
  • there are an estimated 5000-6000 hospitalisations due to work-related ill-health.

Something has to change. We all need to work smarter and work together to do something about it.

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) came into force on 4 April 2016 bringing with it new responsibilities for everyone in the workplace. The law is part of a reform package aimed at reducing the number of serious work-related injuries and deaths in New Zealand by at least 25 percent by 2020.

Our vision is that everyone who goes to work deserves to come home healthy and safe.