The main act for the management of health and safety in the workplace is the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).
Requirements under the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015
The purpose of the HSWA is to provide for a balanced framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces. It achieves this by:
- Protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare by eliminating or minimising risks
- Providing for fair and effective workplace representation, consultation, co-operation and resolution of issues
- Providing a framework for continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety
The HSWA focuses on proactively identifying and managing risks so everyone is safe and healthy.
The coverage is broad, and the HSWA imposes duties on a wide range of working relationships in nearly all workplaces. A person may have duties under more than one section of the HSWA, and a duty may apply to more than one person at one time.
The HSWA 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, the Building Act 1991 and the Electricity Act 1992. There may be some overlap with the HSWA. 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 also applies to the University.
As defined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015:
- Means a place where work is being carried out, or is customarily carried out, for a business or undertaking
- Includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work
- A vehicle, vessel, aircraft, ship, or other mobile structure
- Any waters and any installation on land, on the bed of any waters, or floating on any waters
Duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
The University of Otago
The HSWA requires the university, as a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) a primary duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers which includes:
- Providing and maintaining a work environment that is without risks to health and safety
- Providing and maintaining safe plant and structures
- Providing and maintaining safe systems of work
- Ensuring the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances
- Providing adequate facilities for the welfare at work of workers in carrying out work for the business or undertaking, including ensuring access to those facilities
- Providing any information, training, instruction, or supervision that is necessary to protect all people from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking
- Monitoring the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace for the purpose of preventing injury or illness of workers arising from the conduct of the business or undertaking
University of Otago Workers
The HSWA also places duties on workers to:
- Take reasonable care of their own health and safety,
- Take reasonable care that what they do or don't do doesn't adversely affect the health and safety of others,
- Cooperate with any reasonable policies or procedures the business or undertaking has in place on how to work in a safe and healthy way
- Comply with any reasonable instruction given by the business or undertaking so that they can comply with HSWA and the regulations
Other duties are also defined for officers, volunteers and other persons at the workplace.