Health and Safety in New Zealand – a snapshot


Nobody goes to work expecting to get hurt, sick, or killed. But in New Zealand, far too many people do. Every year 50-60 people are killed in a work incident and 600-900 more die early deaths as a result of work-related ill-health.

The social and economic cost of deaths, injuries, and ill-health arising from work is estimated at $3.5 billion a year – but the real toll is paid by the families, friends, and co-workers of those who are killed and seriously injured.

Our health and safety record is nearly twice as bad as Australia’s and three times worse than the United Kingdom’s.

Workplace fatalities by region:

Workplace fatalities by industry:

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The new Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is New Zealand’s workplace health and safety law. HSWA sets out the principles, duties and rights in relation to workplace health and safety. Businesses have the primary responsibility for the health and safety of their workers and any other workers they influence or direct (e.g. contractors). They are also responsible for the health and safety of people at risk from the work of their business (e.g. members of the public).  

In addition, officers (company directors, partners, board members, chief executives) must undertake due diligence to make sure the business understands and is meeting its health and safety responsibilities.

All businesses and undertakings must involve their workers in workplace health and safety. A safe workplace is more easily achieved when everyone involved in the work communicates with each other to identify hazards and risks, talks about any health and safety concerns and works together to find solutions.

Businesses have two related duties:

  • to engage with workers who carry out work for them on all health and safety matters that may  affect them
  • to have practices that give their workers reasonable opportunities to participate effectively in improving health and safety in the business or undertaking on an ongoing basis (these are known as worker participation practices).


  1. Every day workers get exposed to chemical toxins and get permanently injured by those toxins,

    Oh yes they begin with dry sore throats, sore heads, dry eyes and then subtly worse symptoms occur such as what happened to me when I was in a “sick building” with virtually no ventilation yet, mas it was a construction site the powers that be (Labour Department) thought if it was construction site we are somehow stronger than common workers and can stand the bad air right????

    I guess the same happened to the Mine workers on the west coast but they swept that under the carpet right????

    I was one of 40 workers severely health affected some permanently in that sick building without any functioning ventilation system as it was not installed yet as it was still in construction with all windows (without opening windows) and now with 5 months of inhalation of many toxic chemicals my life is now restricted to living in a safe location miles from civilisation to survive as I spend the rest of my life trying to recover, as when you see a doctor they all say, “I don’t know about chemicals”

    Yes we have an awful safety & health workers system which does very little to protect us all now.

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