Health and Safety at Work Act – Contact magazine April 2016

Atul Mehta from Moore Stephens Markhams Chartered Accountants talks about the implications of the new Health and Safety at Work Act and what this means for employers and staff. Download the article in Contact April 2016 here.

The new Health and Safety at Work Act came into force on 4 April 2016.

There are around 50 to 70 workplace fatalities in New Zealand each year. This is twice the rate of Australia, three times the rate of Great Britain, and 90 percent of these fatalities are men.

Most of our fatalities are in the agriculture, forestry and
the fishing industries. A huge number of employees die prematurely each year from work related disease, and some are related to occupational cancers. Each year over 200,000 occupational injuries result in ACC claims. The Manufacturing Sector has the highest number of work related injuries.

The current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 provides that companies and individuals can be prosecuted for health and safety breaches. Under the new legislation, the focus is on the employer providing the highest level of protection that is reasonably practicable against harm to their employees’ health, safety and welfare, from hazard and risk at work.

Added duties and responsibilities are imposed on those
best able to control risk, and there are significant increases in penalties for any breach. For example, the maximum penalty for an individual for the worst offending is $600,000 or up to five years in jail, and for a corporate the penalty is $3,000,000.

The new act provides responsibilities for a primary duty- holder “person conducting a business or undertaking” (PCBU). The PCBU has the primary duty of care to ensure employees’ health and safety.

The PCBU obligations include:

  • Providing and maintaining a work environment, plant and systems of work that are without risk to health and safety.
  • Ensuring the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances.
  • Providing adequate facilities at work for the welfare of workers including ensuring access to those facilities.
  • Providing information, training and instructions, or supervision to protect workers and others from risks to their health and safety.
  • Monitoring the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace for the purpose of preventing illness or injury.

Under the new legislation, employees have duties too. These include:

  • Taking reasonable care of their own health and safety in the workplace.
  • Taking reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other people.
  • Complying as far as they are reasonably able to, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the PCBU to allow the PCBU to comply with the legislation.

The Government’s aim by introducing this legislation is to reduce workplace deaths and serious injuries by 25 percent by 2020. As an employer, now is a good time to ensure that all your processes and procedures around health and safety in the workplace are in order and if necessary I encourage you to get external professional advice to ensure your pharmacy is compliant with this new legislation.

The Guild has produced a guide to the new Health and Safety at Work Act. The guide outlines the new requirements and includes links to useful resources such as an accident investigation form and a hazard and first aid assessment register. You can access the guide and other resources at


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