The University of Otago is committed to providing
a safe and healthy place of work for staff, students and visitors.
This is documented as the University
Health and Safety Policy Statement, and Associated
The University actively seeks to comply with the
relevant legislation, codes of practice,
guidelines and standards that relate to University areas of work.
The health and safety management
structure supports and
facilitates the development of health and safety policies, defines
responsibilities and ensures communication on health and safety
The main Act for the management of health and safety in the workplace
is the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act). The
HSE Act was amended in 2002.
See the summary of changes below.
The principle objective of the HSE Act and amendment is to provide
for the prevention of harm to employees at work. It achieves this
through promoting health and safety management by employers, imposing
duties on employers and others, and the provision of making regulations
and approved codes of practice relating to particular significant
The coverage is broad, and the HSE Act imposes duties on a wide
range of working relationships in nearly all places of work. A
person may have duties under more than one section of the HSE Act,
and a duty may apply to more than one person at one time.
The HSE Act is performance-based legislation and varies to the
previously prescriptive legislation. The HSE Act is supported by
regulations, guidelines and codes of practice, which control specific
health and safety issues.
There is other legislation that may impact on the health and
safety in the workplace that still apply, such as the Gas Act 1992,
Building Act 1991 and the Electricity Act 1992. There may be some
overlap with the HSE Act. In these situations the requirements
of both will need to be complied with. Usually, by meeting the
requirements of one Act, the health and safety requirements would
also be met. The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
(HSNO Act) places controls on hazardous substances and new organisms
and applies to the University.
See the Hazard
Management section of this website for further information.
Place of work
The HSE Act applies to places of work. A place of work is very
broadly defined in the HSE Act as any place (not necessarily part
of a building or structure) where any person is to work, is working
for the time being or customarily works for gain or reward. In
relation to an employee, it includes a place or part of a place
under the control of the employer where an employee:
- Comes or may come to eat, rest or get first-aid or pay,
- Comes or may come as part of their duties, to report
in or out, get instructions or deliver goods or vehicles; or
- May or must pass through to reach a place of work.
Duties under the Act
The HSE Act requires a general duty for employers to ensure the
safety of employees while at work (section 5). This contains particular
duties of employers to:
- Provide and maintain safe working environment
- Provide and maintain facilities for the safety and health
of employees at work;
- Ensure that plant machinery and equipment in the place of
work is designed, made, set up and maintained to be safe for
- Ensure that systems of work do not lead to employees being
exposed to hazards in or around their place of work; and
- Develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise
while employees are at work.
The HSE Act also places duties on employees:
- Not to endanger themselves or others (section 19);
- Not to interfere with an accident scene (section 26); and/or
- To comply with notices, sampling or other requirements of health
and safety inspectors and departmental medical practitioners
from OSH (sections 31, 33, 35, 37, 39 - 45).
An employee who has management or supervisory responsibilities
as part of his/her job has the duties of an employee, and there
may be occasions where he or she will represent the interests
of the employer, such as 'being in control of the place of
Other duties are also defined for self-employed, officers,
directors and agents of a body corporate.
ACC introduced the Partnership Programme (PP) to encourage
eligible employers to take responsibility for their workplace
safety and injury management,
including rehabilitation and claims management in respect of work related
accidents. The University application was successful
and was approved by ACC as a full
self-cover plan employer under the Injury Prevention,
Rehabilitation, and Compensation (IPRC)
The University is required to complete an internal audit, and
an annual audit by an independent ACC auditor. The required standards
to workplace health and safety management, injury prevention and
injury management including
and claims administration. These standards include requirements similar
the HSE Act. The level of standard achieved reflects a different
ACC premium discount.
There are three levels of primary, secondary and tertiary. Currently
the University is at tertiary level.
This means that the University receives and manages all work-related
claims, and calculates pay entitlements and provides rehabilitation
for work related
injuries. The University will also pay for the portion of medical
treatment costs that was previously paid by ACC.
Further details of the ACC
Partnership programme at the University of Otago are available
elsewhere on this website.
Summary of the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment
The amendment act purpose is to address the following issues:
- Increase the principal Act coverage to include maritime,
rail, and air industries, coverage of mobile workers, provide
to volunteers, persons on the job training/work experience
and employees on loan, confirming harm can occur from work related
stress, confirm that certain temporary conditions may cause
behaviour to be hazardous.
- Include provisions requiring good faith co-operation
between employers and employees in relation to health and safety.
- Provide for more effective enforcement of the HSE Act
- Prohibit persons being indemnified and from indemnifying
others against the cost of fines and infringement fees for failing
comply with the HSE Act
- Promote compliance with the International Labour Convention 155
concerning Occupational H&S and the working environment.
- The amendment commencement date May 5th, 2003.
- All practical steps definition repealed and replaced
with a similar definition to define that practical steps can
if the person knows or ought to reasonably know about.
- Application to include health and safety for aircraft and
- Volunteers doing regular work - increase coverage for
the effect of the HSE Act to apply to volunteers in the workplace.
Does not apply to fundraising, sports and recreation for sports
club, recreational club and an educational institution. The
HSE Act covers other volunteers (not doing regular work). Volunteer
assistance with activities for an educational institution outside
the premises of the institution is excluded in all situations.
- Persons receiving on the job training or gaining work experience
must be treated as an employee of the person who has agreed
(treated as the employer) to provide on the job training or work
- Loaned employees - Loaned employee must be treated as
an employee of the receiving the loaned employee, who must
be capable of doing the required work.
- Object of the Act - expanded to include new areas, specifically
hazard to include stress and mental harm, hazardous behaviour,
volunteers, good faith co-operation with employees, increasing
enforcement options and prohibiting indemnifying against
costs of fines and infringement fees.
- Personal protective equipment - allowance or extra salary
for employees to purchase personal protective equipment, and
requiring employees to provide their own personal protective
longer meets the requirements for hazard minimisation (unless
the employee voluntarily choose to provide own equipment).
Equipment to be supplied by the employer.
- Information for Employees - includes health and safety
representatives to have ready access to sufficient information
to enable representatives to perform their functions.
- Section 14 repealed and replaced with employee participation
- New section requiring persons selling or supplying plant
for use in a place of work to take all practical steps to ensure
is designed, made, maintained and installed so that it is safe
for use. This applies to the hire or leasing of plant, but
not the sale of second hand plant or plant sold as is.
- Duties of employees expanded to include the requirement
to use personal protective equipment supplied.
- Part 2A - Employee Participation - refer to University
of Otago Employee Participation System
- Codes of practice - increase scope for the development
of codes, Health and Safety Representative Code of Practice
may be developed.
- Regulations expanded to include the development of regulations
imposing duties on principals or self-employed persons.
- Recording and notification of serious harm - self-employed
must maintain register of accidents, principals must record
injuries or potential for harm (that the principal becomes aware
self-employed persons contracted to the principal, harm resulting
from a self-employed person contract to the principal. Every
occurrence of serious harm to self-employed persons contracted
to the principal
must be reported to OSH as soon as possible after a serious
harm incident, and in writing within 7 days.
- Section 28A and 28B inserted - right of employees to
refuse to perform work likely to cause serious harm. Allows
an employee to refuse work on the grounds of potential serious
Reasonable grounds to refuse unsafe work includes a health
and safety representative advise that the work can cause serious
harm. If a reasonable work alternative is provided by the employer
is within the scope of the employee's employment agreement,
then the employee must do that work. The employer, employee,
health and safety representative must deal with each other
- Enforcement by other agencies - specifies the process
for enforcement of HSE Act by other agencies, such as Maritime
- Functions of inspectors/powers of entry and inspection
etc. - clarification of inspector powers further defined.
- New Section 46A - Trained Health and Safety Representatives
may issue hazard notices. This section allows for the issuing
of hazard notices by a trained H&S Representative.
- Fine increases - Offences likely to cause serious harm,
increase from $100k to $500k and imprisonment from 1 year to
2 years. Other offences - increase from $25k to $250k.
- Sentencing Criteria - Section 51A, specifies aspects
of sentencing criteria based on OSH policy.
- Enforcement action - not necessary to prove defendant
intended to take or not take action that constitutes an offence.
sections also detail the requirements for H&S Inspectors
to notify of interest to take enforcement action, lay information
and covers the requirements for any other person to lay information,
providing OSH is not taking enforcement action. The time limit
for laying information has been altered to within 6 months from
when the incident/event/situation becomes known to an Inspector,
or should have been known to an Inspector. Applications can be
made by Inspectors to request an extension of time to lay information.
- Infringement notices - allows inspectors to issue infringement
notices (spot fines). Infringement notices may be issued to
employers, employees, self-employed, principal, contractor, and
The Inspector may revoke infringement notices if conditions
are met prior to the due date for fee payment. Fees range from
to $4000 at multiples of $100 for offences relating to section
7 (1) of the HSE Act (hazard identification and management),
and $100 to $3000 for other offences. (Criminal record not
- Insurance against fines unlawful and of no action - removes
the ability to indemnify against fines under the HSE Act. Able
to indemnify against costs.
- Consequential Amendments required for the Employee Relations
Act 2000 regarding the Health and Safety Representative role.
Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) amended by
definition of the term place of work to be consistent with
the HSE Act. Maritime Transport Act 1994 amended to includes
of all practical steps, and significant hazard.