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The Practicalities of New Zealand’s WHS Reform Plan

A Taskforce was established in 2012 by the NZ Minister of Labour to conduct an extensive and broad reaching investigation in to the current NZ work health and safety model.

The findings, presented late in 2013, recommended fundamental and sustainable change in safety harm prevention activity, including ill-health, injury and death, and a dramatic improvement in safety outcomes. The resulting Health & Safety Reform Bill is currently being considered by Parliament. You can download it here.

The Bill is central to creating a world-class health and safety environment…….A shift in the way we all view our involvement in, and responsibility for, health and safety at work is needed to make a lasting change in our safety culture.

The Legislative model presented, known as the Roben’s model, provides for performance-based general duties, underpinned by industry or hazard-specific regulations, such as specific rules for certain industries that include approved codes of practice and guidance.

The NZ Government has carefully considered the Model Act adopted in Australia (which is based on Roben’s model), and modified it to reflect New Zealand’s specific context. The primary driver for adopting and adapting the Australian model is based on simplifying workplace health and safety for Trans-Tasman businesses, and the opportunity to draw upon resources, knowledge and jurisprudence developed in Australia, including regulations, codes and practice and guidance material.

The Bill will replace the current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and Machinery Act 1950. The Bill will also result in amendment bills to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, Accident Compensation Act, Employment Relations Act, and Worksafe New Zealand Act.

‘The current WHS regulatory framework places a strong emphasis on the employer and employee roles……

Modern workforces contain multiple employers with diverse workforces made up of employees, contractors and others. Irrespective of a person’s role, they should have the appropriate level of obligation to make sure their safety is not adversely affected.

The current framework is no longer suitable to address modern working arrangements.’


Enactment of a new WHS Act, includes:

  • Extending the ‘Duty of Care’ to Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), ensuring that on-one is put at risk from the work carried out, regardless of the working relationship.
  • Directors and other Officers in governance roles proactively complying with their duties and obligations. This is new and ensures decision-makers are accountable for the consequences of their decisions. The Bill contains strong and effective enforcement regime with new tools and graduated offence categories and penalties.
  • The requirement for evidence that the individual has been provided a safe work environment. This includes training, information and education about the inherent risk and hazards within an industry, a workplace and a task.


The introduction of the Bill is occurring in parallel with the development of the first phase of health and safety regulations, and the development of codes of practice and guidance material.


WorkPro can help you to adapt to this new way of working by providing you with an evidence-based work health and safety induction & licence management solution. Contact us to find out more about this unique solution.

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