The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is New Zealand’s most prominent labour health and safety law.
The legislation came into effect after the Independent Task Force for Health and Safety recognised in 2013 that the country’s health and system was failing and urged for necessary changes.
The purpose of the HSWA 2015
It was reported that over 26,000 workplace injuries occurred in 2018, resulting in more than a week away from work. Furthermore, there were over 60 workplace fatalities in 2018 (more).
Workers have the right to feel safe and healthy in their workplace. Workers and their families also have the right to expect they will return home safe from work every day.
The HSWA sets out the principles, duties, obligations and rights regarding health and safety in the workplace. The key principle is to ensure the highest level of protection is given to workers and others in the workplace against any harm to their health, safety and welfare by proactively minimising and eliminating work-related risks as is reasonably practicable.
Who is responsible for health and safety under the HSWA?
Following NZ’s health and safety reform, the HSWA now outlines that everyone in the workplace is responsible for health and safety. This includes businesses, officers, workers and others. Everyone must understand their role and responsibilities in the workplace:
- Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) – A PCBU is usually a business entity such as a company. They hold the primary duty of care for the health and safety of their workers and must ensure they are providing a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.
- Officers – Officers include people such as company directors, board members or chief executives, and are responsible for exercising due diligence to ensure the PCBU understands and complies with their health and safety duties and obligations.
- Workers and Others in the workplace – While at work, workers and other persons must take reasonable care of their own health and safety. They must also ensure their actions do not adversely effect the health and safety of the people around them. Furthermore, they must understand and comply with health and safety instructions provided by the workplace.
How can Working Wise help?
The HSWA lies at the heart of much of what Working Wise does. Here at Working Wise, we ensure your workplace has all the necessary health and safety systems in place by providing you with the relevant tools and and resources to support and engage your people in your workplace health and safety.