New Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 – What Owners, Directors and Managers need to know

The New Zealand Government has very clearly signalled that it wants owners, directors and managers to sit up and take notice of their health and safety responsibilities. This will be reinforced by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which comes into force on 4 April 2016.

What is changing?

The new Health and Safety at Work Act will impose an active duty on those in a governance role to proactively manage workplace health and safety. The new laws will impose a due diligence role on officers and directors with regard to health and safety.

This video below from WorkSafe NZ explains it well...


Credit: WorkSafe NZ

What can you do now?

Trying to meet the due diligence requirements on the night before the legislation comes into force is doomed to failure. Now is the time to review your current situation, and get health and safety matters in order with SafetyMonitor. If you need help to understand the changing legal requirements, provide training or information to you or your business, or talk through whether your current arrangements are adequate, please get in touch.

  • Duties under the new Act are imposed on the catchy name of a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU). Essentially, a difficult to say acronym for every business or not for profit that is operating in New Zealand.
  • Specific duties are also imposed on "officers" of the PCBU. Officers will be Directors, Partners and any person occupying a position that allows them to exercise significant influence over the management of the PCBU (for example, the Chief Executive).
  • All Officers of a PCBU must exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies under the Act - including taking reasonable steps to:
    • Acquire, and keep up-to–date, knowledge of work health and safety matters such as the hazards and risks from the particular operation; and
    • Ensure that the PCBU uses (or has available to use) appropriate resources to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety;
    • Ensure that the PCBU has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards, and risks – to respond in a timely way to that information; and
    • Ensure the PCBU has and implements processes for complying with Duties under the Act.
  • Significant potential penalties under new legislation - fines for Officers of a PCBU of up to $300,000 and/or up to 5 years’ imprisonment and up to $3m for a PCBU which is a body corporate.
  • Information supplied by Hesketh Henry. This is intended to be a general summary only. For more information and specific legal advice, please contact the team at Hesketh Henry on (+64) 09 375 8700 or email lawyers@heskethhenry.co.nz