When your business has well managed health and safety systems, everyone wins. Your staff are assured that their welfare is important, which leads to higher retention rates. You gain an intimate understanding of each part of your business, which leads to increased productivity and contributes to bringing down death and serious harm statistics, which is good for all of New Zealand.
It is also a legal requirement for you to ensure that you provide a safe workplace for your employees.
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The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act 1992) is the core piece of legislation that defines health and safety standards in the Kiwi workplace. It aims to make sure people including employers and employees – aren’t harmed when doing their work.
The act does this in many ways, but for employers it sets out a range of duties you must carry out to ensure people are safe and healthy at work.
Employers must primarily focus on working with employees to systematically manage hazards in the workplace by:
- Identifying hazards in the workplace.
- Eliminating, isolating or minimising (in that order of preference) those hazards by introducing and maintaining safe work practices.
If a hazard can’t be eliminated, staff must be informed of the risk and shown how they can work safely.
Overall, employers must:
- Provide safe work processes and safe machinery and equipment and provide staff with safety information.
- Provide appropriate training and supervision.
- Provide suitable protective clothing and equipment to staff and ensure it is worn (where a hazard can’t be eliminated).
- Develop procedures for dealing with emergencies.
- Record all workplace accidents and illnesses, and report cases of serious harm.
- Monitor the health of employees in relation to workplace hazards.
- Provide opportunities for employees to participate in health and safety.
The HSE Act 1992 instructs all employers, the self-employed and principals who contract work out to ensure workplace health and safety for all employees full and part time, including loaned employees, people on work experience and in training, plus all visitors to the workplace.
Hazard management in the workplace is typically carried out in the following way.
- Systematically identify, assess and document each hazard in the workplace. A hazard isn’t just a piece of potentially dangerous equipment – anything from the choice of toxic cleaning materials to shift rosters that affect fatigue can be classed as hazards.
- Take every practical step to eliminate each hazard. Develop a plan (ideally with the input of your employees) to put into action that will do that. If it’s not possible to eliminate all hazards, discuss with employees how they can be isolated or managed by changing work processes.
- Before enacting the plan, consult the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and any relevant industry associations to confirm any approved codes of practice and minimum regulatory standards you might have to follow. Go online to the MBIE website or call MBIE on 0800 20 90 20.
- After eliminating, isolating or minimising your workplace hazards, regularly review your record and assessment of each hazard – not just when new information comes to light or when a workplace process changes.
Find out more about the hazard management process with What you need to know about: Health and Safety.
Find out more about Employment regulations.