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:
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).