The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (“the Act”) came into force on 4 April 2016. This Act has significant implications for workers and business owners alike, reforming New Zealand’s health and safety system.
The Act introduces the concept of a “person conducting a business or undertaking” (“PCBU”) and sets out a wide range of PCBU obligations – in most cases a PCBU will be an organization, for example a business entity such as a company. All PCBUs must involve their workers in workplace health and safety and have a duty to engage with their workers and give their workers reasonable opportunities to participate effectively in improving health and safety in the business.
The Act also imposes a positive duty on officers of a PCBU (for example a director of a company or partner in a partnership) to exercise due diligence in ensuring that the PCBU complies with its health and safety duties, failing which, officers can be personally liable.
For workers, there is an obligation to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others. Workers need to comply with reasonable instructions from the PCBU and co-operate with PCBU policies and procedures.