Health & Safety

With the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 now in force, it is a good time to review workplace practices and the roles of its’ people. Following is a brief summary and links to where you can find out more about the details.

The aim of the new Act is to improve New Zealand’s woeful health and safety record and turn it around to a positive, pro-active and robust health and safety culture in our work force. Everyone has a right to go home safely. The focus is on effective governance and it brings new responsibilities for everyone in the workplace. Changes include:

  • Increased penalties for non-compliance
  • Wider enforcement tools for non-compliance
  • A new three tiered hierarchy of offences
  • Duties owed by employers and principals is replaced by duty owed by ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU)
  • New due diligence obligation on directors and officers to take reasonable steps to:
    • ensure PCBU complies with its duty to ensure health and safety of others
    • acquire and maintain current knowledge of health and safety matters, and hazards and risks associated with the company’s operations
    • ensure the PCBU has sufficient resources to manage health and safety risks and that it uses those resources
    • ensure the company complies with its health and safety duties
  • New duty owed by PCBU to take ‘reasonably practicable steps’ to ensure the health and safety of workers and other persons, including the environment not posing risks, provide adequate facilities, information, protection and training. Conditions in the workplace must be monitored to prevent injury. Worker participation in health and safety matters is increased. Workers also have a duty to take reasonable care with health and safety of themselves and others.

Management or Statutory Liability insurance policies will generally include amendments to existing Act or new Acts to be automatically included. Whilst the Act prohibits insuring against fines, certain others costs and financial consequences of a prosecution can be insured against and due to the wider duties the costs associated with a prosecution under the Act can be expected to increase. Now is therefore a good time to review your indemnity limit in your Liability insurance policy.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s user friendly website is a great resource with information, presentations, tools and resources.

The Institute of Directors have issued a document called Good Governance Practice Guidelines which provides directors advice on how they can influence health and safety performance in their organisations.  It includes further detail and provides more in-depth analysis of the changes and requirements placed on Directors.

Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2016 supporting the new Act is available to assist with compliance.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015