We’ve set out our expectations for managing hazardous substances and asbestos authorisations, PECPR equipment, and the supply of electricity and gas at Alert Levels 2 and 4.

Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, certifiers, equipment inspectors, and inspection bodies can operate if they can do so safely.  They need to comply with all requirements of any relevant public health orders.

All businesses operating at Alert Level 2 should comply with relevant regulatory requirements, including any requirements for certification or licencing.

If you have issues obtaining necessary certificates and licences because of alert level 2 let us know at:

Alert Level 4

Certifiers, equipment inspectors and inspection bodies

At Alert Level 4, certifiers, equipment inspectors, and inspection bodies can operate if they choose to and can do so safely. They may also choose not to work.

They are an Alert Level 4 business or service when they’re supporting Alert Level 4 businesses or services.

Certifiers, equipment inspectors and inspection bodies operating at Alert Level 4

Certifiers, equipment inspectors, and inspection bodies that choose to operate must continue to meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and relevant regulations.

If they choose to work, they need to keep healthy and safe and think about working differently if need be.

If they choose to work, we expect them to:

  • Protect their own health and safety and continue to meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Think about working differently if possible. For example, they must work from home if they can.
  • Only provide services to sites that are able to operate safely.
  • Make sure they are aware of and comply with the rules around travelling between regions or areas that are at different alert levels.
  • Comply with all requirements of any relevant public health orders.

Where a compliance certifier is asked to issue a compliance certificate during Alert Level 4 that usually involves a site visit (e.g. certificates for locations and stationary tanks), and a site visit cannot be undertaken, a compliance certificate must not be issued. A PCBU may still be able to continue to operate in these circumstances (see sections below). 

Travel between an Alert Level 4 area and an Alert Level 2 area

Travel between alert level areas is only permitted if the travel is for a specified purpose under clause 18 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 11) 2021(external link). This includes work for an Alert Level 4 business or service. Such travel is subject to a range of requirements, for more information on this see Public health requirements for all Alert Level 4 businesses and services | WorkSafe.

Our approach for third-party audit regimes

Some businesses may be required to have equipment or processes audited or approved by third parties.

If the equipment or procedure has been maintained and continues to meet substantive work health and safety requirements, work doesn’t necessarily need to stop solely because a certificate cannot be issued due to the constraints imposed by Alert Level 4.

However, PCBUs must actively check to ensure that equipment is safe and compliant, and consider the risks associated with using it.

Businesses with expired or expiring certificates or licences

Some businesses’ certificates or licences may have expired, or they may be due to expire, during Alert Level 4. 

During Alert Level 4 it may be difficult for some businesses to obtain a certificate or licence due to the availability of certifiers, equipment inspectors, and inspection bodies.

Our expectations of businesses in this situation are set out below and differ depending on whether the business is operating or not.

Businesses operating during Alert Level 4

If you are operating during Alert Level 4, you must take all practicable steps to ensure the certificate or licence is renewed.

If, as a direct result of being at Alert Level 4, and only for that reason, you are unable to renew your certificate or licence you may need to operate for a period without certification in place.

Where that is the case, we expect you to:

  • comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and any relevant regulations in all other respects, and
  • review your operations against the prescribed requirements for obtaining a certificate or licence, and document the review, and
  • ensure your operations have remained compliant, and
  • ensure the review documentation is made available on request to certifiers, equipment inspectors, inspection bodies, or WorkSafe inspectors, and
  • analyse the risk of operating, and
  • renew the certificate or licence as soon as possible.

We recommend you develop a checklist to help you document your review. This may be done as part of a COVID-19 safety plan. If you are unable to develop a checklist, contact your certifier, equipment inspector, or inspection body who may be able to help you remotely.

Keep in mind that if you are recommissioning equipment that has been shut down, then you need to identify the associated risks with doing so, and how you will mitigate them. This may also be in your COVID-19 safety plan.

Businesses under Alert Level 4 that are not operating

If you are not operating under Alert Level 4, and your certificate or licence expires, you may need to hold the hazardous substance(s) or unlicensed equipment for a period without certification or licensing in place.

Where that is the case, we expect you to:

  • ensure the site remains static e.g. there should be no use, handling, or movement of the hazardous substance(s), and
  • comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and any relevant regulations in all other respects, and
  • renew the certificate or licence as soon as possible.

It’s important that you remain in touch with your certifier, equipment inspector, or inspection body so that when you do restart business (for example, when you move to Alert Level 2) you can get your certification or licence renewed as soon as possible.

We expect that equipment due for certificate of inspection under PECPR and not needed at Alert Level 4 to be shut down for the duration of Alert Level 4, if it is safe to do so. 

PECPR equipment

For equipment that falls within the Health and Safety in Employment (Pressure Equipment, Cranes and Passenger Ropeways) Regulations 1999 (PECPR), we also expect PCBUs to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment considering the following matters at a minimum:

  • Can the certifier attend and are they allowed on site?
  • Are maintenance personnel available and allowed on site?
  • Is maintenance up to date?
  • Are safety critical devices operational, and if so,
    • are control systems checked and verified, and/or
    • are safety valves tested and operational?
  • Have there been any problems with the equipment during the certification period?
  • What is the risk if the equipment fails?
  • On balance, is the equipment safe for continued operation?

We expect clear, accurate and comprehensive documentation of these considerations to be started, maintained, and available for inspection by anyone in that workplace, including an equipment inspector or certifier. This documentation should also be available for a WorkSafe inspector.

Where PCBUs are satisfied they have done all that’s reasonably practicable to obtain certification – but are unable to do so due to Alert Level 4 circumstances – the equipment may remain in service until inspection and re-certification services are available. This is on the basis that the equipment remains safe to use. We would like PCBUs in this situation to inform WorkSafe they are doing so at technicall@worksafe.govt.nz

Our approach if a compliance certificate is a pre-condition for supplying hazardous substances

In some circumstances, a compliance certificate is a pre-condition for a supplier delivering hazardous substances to a site (e.g. delivery to a stationary container system). Alert Level 4 may create difficulties for PCBUs that require a compliance certificate and need to renew that certificate.

In this circumstance we are taking a similar approach to the one set out in our policy clarification on existing LPG installations

This means during Alert Level 4, we’re unlikely to prioritise enforcement action against either the installation PCBU or the PCBU supplying hazardous substances to those installations so long as Covid-19 is the only reason the installation PCBU could not obtain a certificate. If we do decide to take action, our response will reflect the risk gap.

If you are a supplying company delivering a hazardous substance to a business or service operating at Alert Level 4 and they have an expired certificate directly as a result of Covid-19, you should ask to see the documented review that the PCBU will have done if they are unable to obtain a compliance certificate.

Transit depots that can’t clear hazardous substances consignments within the statutory period

During Alert Level 4 it’s unlikely all hazardous substances sent via transit depots (including ports) will be able to be cleared within the statutory 72-hour period.

During Alert Level 4, we’re unlikely to prioritise enforcement action against the transit depot holding the hazardous substance so long as Covid-19 is the only reason the substance is being held. If we do decide to take action, our response will reflect the risk gap.

Transit depot PCBUs who need to hold hazardous substances for longer than 72 hours due to circumstances directly associated with being at Alert Level 4 must continue to comply with all other requirements for transit depots set out in regulations, including:

  • for hazardous substances loaded on road vehicles, that the minimum required separation is maintained between compatible and incompatible substances
  • for hazardous substances held in a transit depot but not loaded on a vehicle, that the required separation is maintained between compatible and incompatible substances, which for ports may be as set out in the Regulations or in accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code.

Expired certified handler certificate and/or controlled substance licence (CSL)

A person in possession of certain explosives, vertebrate toxic agents, and fumigants must hold a certified handler compliance certificate (or an equivalent certificate for some substance) and a controlled substance licence (CSL). A certificate and licence must be renewed every 5 years.

During Alert Level 4 it’s likely to be difficult to obtain a certified handler certificate from a compliance certifier or a WorkSafe issued CSL. This includes renewing expired certificates and licences.

If your certified handler compliance certificate (CHCC) and CSL expires during Alert Level 4 – or if they have expired in the last 3 months and you are in the process of renewing them – we expect you to:

  • ensure there is no use, handling, or movement of any explosives, vertebrate toxic agents, and fumigants you currently hold; and
  • comply with the regulations in all other respects, including ensuring that all explosives, vertebrate toxic agents, and fumigants you hold are stored safely in accordance with the regulations’ storage requirements; and
  • renew your CHCC and CSL as soon as possible after Alert Level 4 is lifted.

If you are required to use an explosive, vertebrate toxic agent, or fumigant as part of providing an Alert Level 4 business or service and, as a result of Alert Level 4, you cannot renew your CHCC or CSL, we expect you to:

  • ensure that the scope of your existing CHCC and CSL includes the use of the substance; and
  • ensure there is no other use, handling, or movement of the explosive, vertebrate toxic agent, or fumigant; and
  • comply with the regulations in all other respects, including ensuring that all explosives, vertebrate toxic agents, and fumigants you hold are used and stored safely in accordance with the regulations’ requirements; and
  • renew your CHCC and CSL as soon as possible after Alert Level 4 is lifted.

What about the supply and use of gas and electricity?

We will be working with energy supply companies to ensure they can maintain safe supplies.

As more people will be spending more time at home, it is important everyone remembers some important messages.

  • If in doubt about a gas or electrical appliance or heater, or you smell gas or anything else unusual, switch the appliance off and get it checked by a competent person.
  • If you are using any gas appliance, remember it needs an air supply to work safely and effectively. Don’t block up ventilators and other sources of take-up air as this could be fatal. Again, if in doubt, check with a professional.