Our inspectors, trainee inspectors, and authorised officers are authorised by the Director-General of Health to be COVID-19 enforcement officers under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 (COVID-19 legislation) and its Orders.
Their role is to enforce COVID-19 legislation requirements for work and workplaces.
We are more likely to take enforcement action for a COVID-19 matter under COVID-19 legislation rather than the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). However, this depends on the nature of the breach.
Our inspectors take an education-first approach. They:
- can help you understand what you must do to meet COVID-19 legislation requirements
- can give you the chance to make changes and ‘do the right thing’, and
- may act against you if those changes aren't made.
Complying with HSWA in a COVID-19 context
We want to provide more certainty about how to meet our expectations for complying with HSWA when managing the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work. There are three steps you need to follow.
- Comply with all COVID-19 legislation requirements that may apply to your business or service. COVID-19 legislation(external link) sets out what you must do to manage the risk that COVID-19 spreads at work. We consider it is reasonably practicable for you to comply with these legal requirements as part of your primary duty of care(external link) under HSWA.
- Use public health guidance to help you control the risk of COVID-19 infection at work. The Ministry of Health has guidance about what you can do to reduce the risk that COVID-19 spreads(external link) at your business or service. This guidance is updated whenever public health experts learn more about the virus.
- Keep up to date as the situation develops. The pace of change during COVID-19 is much faster than typical risks to work health and safety. It’s important you stay informed about any developments that may have an impact on your business or service. Unite Against COVID-19(external link) has the latest information about COVID-19.
Continue to reassess the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work and the controls you have in place to manage the risk. Make sure you consult with your workers and their representatives on this. We have general information about identifying, assessing, and managing risk.
We consider these three steps are enough for most businesses and services to meet HSWA’s primary duty of care in relation to COVID-19.
We are unlikely to intervene in an individual case of work-related COVID-19. However, we may intervene if a business or service has a cluster of work-related COVID-19 cases that indicate risks aren’t being managed effectively.