New Zealand: Workplace Safety Laws Overhauled

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By Jeff Florian

Feb. 26—A sweeping new health and safety law is set to come into force in New Zealand bringing new responsibilities for both employers and employees in the workplace. The Health and Safety at Work Act, which takes effect on April 4, is part of a reform package aimed at reducing the number of serious work-related injuries and deaths in the country by at least 25 percent by 2020.

Under the law, an employer will have a ‘‘primary duty of care’’ to ensure the health and safety of workers and others affected by the work it carries out, including workers at locations where it shares a work site and visitors to the workplace. Employees also must take reasonable care for their own and their fellow workers’ health and safety.

For employers, the primary duty of care includes, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • providing and maintaining a work environment that is without risks to health and safety;
  • providing and maintaining safe systems of work;
  • providing adequate facilities for the welfare of employees performing work for the business or undertaking, including ensuring access to those facilities;
  • providing any information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to protect all people from risks to their health and safety; and
  • monitoring the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace for the purpose of preventing injuries or illnesses.
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    Both employers and individuals can be held accountable for reckless conduct, with penalties of up to NZ$3 million (U.S. $2 million) for employers and NZ$600,000 (U.S. $400,000) and/or up to five years’ imprisonment for individuals.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Florian at jflorian@bna.com

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

    For More Information

    For more information on New Zealand HR law and regulation, see the New Zealand primer.