Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act)


The aim of the new Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act) is to reduce New Zealand’s workplace injury and death toll by 25 per cent by 2020. This will need action and leadership from businesses, workers and government.

The HSW Act came into effect on 4 April 2016.

The Acts key emphasis is on everyone in the workplace being responsible for health and safety. Are you prepared for how the changes will affect you and your business?

Check out our free SME guides to learn more.

The New Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act Booklet

As a business owner, it's important that you know what the changes are, and what your responsibilities are under the new HSW Act. 

The HSW Act Book is designed to help guide you through these changes.

Download your free copy.

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The Risk Management 101 Guide

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, if you're a person in charge of a business or undertaking (PCBU), you need to protect your workers and anyone else on site by eliminating or minimising risk.

Not only is risk management a key part of your legal responsibilities, it can also lead to better productivity, better contractor relations and happier workers.

Download your free copy.

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HSW Act Help Videos

We've produced a free six part video series with all you need to know about the new Health and Safety at Work legislation. Start with part one here:

The Changes

Some of the key changes under the HSW Act: 

  • Worker engagement and participation
  • Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs)
  • The duty of officers
  • Volunteer workers
  • Stronger penalties 
  • Definition of workplace
  • Duty of PCBUs who manage and control a workplace

The PCBU or 'person conducting a business or undertaking' is one of the key terms introduced in the new Act. Despite the name the PCBU is not necessarily one person. In most cases a PCBU will refer to a business entity, such as company or organisation. A PCBU may also be an individual in the case of someone running their own business. For example a builder operating as a sole trader will be a PCBU. 

You can view these changes in more detail on WorkSafe New Zealand’s website, or get an understanding of your legal responsibilities we’ve made a fictional small business example available here. 

For CEO's and Directors (Officers)

Under the new Act Officers are now personally liable to ensure health and safety action. The term 'officer' refers to people with senior positions, who have a significant influence over the management of the business. This includes chief executive officers, directors and anyone else at that level. 

Concerned about your responsibilities under the Act? The Business Leaders' Health and Safety Forum have produced a range of free guides for those at director or CE level, including: 

Site Safe also offers a range of leadership courses which also cover the new HSW Act: 

New Regulations

A series of regulations have developed to support the new Act. These include:

  1. General risk and workplace management 
  2. Worker participation, engagement and representation 
  3. Asbestos
  4. Hazards substance 
  5. Major hazard facilities 

More information on the regulations is available on WorkSafe's website. 

Useful information and links

Site Safe can help 

Site Safe has a nationwide team of expert health and safety consultants who can help you get the right systems and culture in place, so you're ready for the new HSW Act. Our consultants can help you improve your existing systems, or put the basics in place if you're starting from scratch. Site Safe is also running a series of free seminars based on the new HSW Act, click here for more details. 

Contact us to hire one of our nationwide advisors or Ask an Advisor a question using our online form.