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Health & Safety Act Made Easy

On 4 April 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSW Act) came into force, making the health and safety responsibilities of those in the workplace clearer to all concerned.

The new law is part of a reform package aimed at reducing the number of serious work-related injuries and deaths in New Zealand by at least 25 percent by 2020.

The HSW Act shifts the focus to identifying and managing risks and to consult, co-operate and coordinate with other parties when there are shared responsibilities.

WorkSafe NZ is leading implementation of health and safety reforms, with contributions from transport agencies involved in health and safety activity, including Maritime New Zealand (MNZ).

MNZ administers the HSW Act and associated regulations for the maritime sector.

The purpose of the HSW Act

The Act's purpose is to promote the prevention of harm to all persons at work and other persons in, or in the vicinity of, a place of work. It aims to achieve this by:

a.    Protecting workers and other people by eliminating or minimising risks.

b.    Providing for fair and effective workplace representation, consultation, and co-operation.

c.     Encouraging workers to promote improvements in health and safety practices.

d.    Promoting the provision of advice, information, education, and training.

e.    Ensuring compliance with the Act.

f.     Ensuring scrutiny of people exercising powers under the Act.

g.    Providing a framework for continuous improvement.

Where the circumstances are known, or ought reasonably to be known about, the duty holder must take all steps that are reasonably practicable. Whether a step is reasonably practicable takes into account:

  • The nature and severity of any injury or harm that may occur.

  • The degree of risk or probability of injury or harm occurring.

  • How much is known about the hazard and the ways of eliminating or minimising the hazard.

  • The availability and cost – the last consideration, which is only relevant if the cost is ‘grossly disproportionate’.


There are numerous regulations made under the HSW Act, the most relevant to the outdoor sector being:

Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016

These regulations are effectively the same as the 2011 regulations plus a new offence relating to providing an adventure activity when an operator is not registered. However, they only relate to providing activities - there will be other parts of your business that must comply with the HSW Act, including non-adventure activities and your base.

Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016

These regulations detail the legal position around protective clothing and equipment in sections 15 and 16.

Further information on the HSW Act

For more general information, see the WorkSafe and Maritime NZ websites:

For more information that relates specifically to the outdoor sector, see the following WorkSafe update and SupportAdventure article: