New Zealand: New health and safety regime from 4 April 2016

Brief Counsel

The Health and Safety at Work Act has now been passed by Parliament and will come into effect on 4 April next year – five and a half years since the Pike River Mine disaster which precipitated the reform.

The aim is to encourage a pro-active and participative health and safety culture in our workforce, in line with the recommendations of the Health and Safety Taskforce and the Royal Commission report into Pike River.

Some changes were made to the initial Bill as it progressed through the House, which the Opposition parties consider will weaken it. But the new regime will still be a significant improvement on what we have now.

We outline the new structure.


The new Act has much bigger teeth than the existing legislation – providing more enforcement options and tougher penalties.

Infringement notices with 'on the spot' fines will be available for:

  • minor breaches that warrant more than a warning but less than a prosecution, and
  • actions or omissions that involve straightforward issues of fact, and do not include qualifying phrases (such as "so far as is easily practicable" or "reasonable steps").

The Act establishes a three tier approach for offences:

Category 1 - reckless conduct; fines up to $600,000 for a director and/or five years in jail

Category 2 - exposing a person to serious harm; up to $300,000

Category 3 – breach of duty; up to $100,000.

The officer

The definition of officer has been fine-tuned through the legislative process and is now designed to capture directors and very senior managers – which, in all but the largest firms, is likely to be just the Chief Executive.

Officers have a positive duty of due diligence which requires them to "take all reasonable steps" to ensure that the PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking – this will generally be the company or the employing organisation), is fulfilling the organisation's obligations under the law.

For directors, the duties will be similar to the discipline they have traditionally applied to managing financial risk and will include:

  • maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of workplace health and safety matters
  • understanding the nature of the operations of the business and any associated risks and hazards, and
  • ensuring and verifying that the PCBU has access to, and uses, the resources, information and processes needed to eliminate or – if elimination is not possible – to minimise safety risks.

The Act does not move liability from the company to its officers as the main duty of care will sit with the PCBU.

Currently a director or officer can be held liable for a fine of up to $500,000 and imprisonment for up to two years if they knowingly "directed, authorised, assented to, acquiesced in, or participated in, the failure" to take all practicable steps.

Less serious offences, where the director does not intend to create the offence and had no knowledge of it, are presently limited to penalties of $250,000.

It has been rare for a director to be charged under the current Act, and those that have been were directors of very small businesses.

Officers will be subject to the same penalties as PCBUs under the new Act.

Responsibilities of the PCBU

The PCBU is required to ensure the health and safety of those who work for the PCBU and those who could be put at risk by that work. Where there are multiple PCBUs on a site and an overlap of duties, PCBUs must discharge their overlapping responsibilities to the extent they have the ability to control the matter. They must also consult, cooperate and coordinate their activities with the other PCBUs.

In high risk industries, the PCBU will have to establish a formal risk management process. This will require:

  • identifying all reasonably foreseeable hazards
  • involving workers and their representatives in developing the risk mitigation strategy
  • eliminating or minimising the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by:
    • substituting the hazard with something less hazardous and/or
    • isolating the hazard from any person who could be exposed to it and/or
    • implementing engineering controls, and if a risk still remains
  • putting in place administrative controls (work methods or procedures) or providing personal protective equipment, and
  • regularly reviewing the control measures to ensure they remain effective over time.

Workforce participation

All PCBUs have the right to appoint H&S representatives and/or H&S committees should they wish. PCBUs employing more than 20 people, and all businesses in sectors with moderate to high risk of injury, are obliged to provide this representation if requested to do so by the workforce.

Regulations will specify, among other things:

  • the criteria for electing an H&S representative, the training to be provided, the term of office (three years) and procedures to terminate an appointment
  • the process for determining the configuration of work groups (these must be negotiated between the PCBU and workers, and must be designed to ensure that workers' H&S interests are represented effectively and efficiently, and that H&S representatives are readily accessible to each worker in the group), and
  • the composition and meeting requirements of H&S committees (they must be at least half composed of workers not nominated by the PCBU, and the committees must meet at least every three months, or at any reasonable time requested by least half of the committee members).

Smaller businesses (20 or fewer workers) in low risk industries do not have to appoint an H&S representative. PCBUs which meet the size test will be excluded from the exemption where there is:

  • a risk of a catastrophic event causing multiple deaths
  • a fatality rate greater than 25 per 100,000 workers
  • a serious injury rate in excess of 25 per 1000 workers, or
  • a likelihood of exposure to asbestos or silica.

Commencement of 4 April 2016

The new regime will come into force from 4 April 2016. From that date, duty holders will be expected to be compliant. There is no transition period. Accordingly, businesses and individual officers should be taking the time now to review their health and safety regimes to ensure that they will be best placed to meet the new regime.

The information in this article is for informative purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions