Health and Safety

Taking care with materials, equipment and work procedures and dealing with hazards.

Health and Safety at Work Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act came into force on 4 April 2016.

The law is part of a package of measures that aims to reduce workplace deaths and injuries by 25% by 2020. All businesses, regardless of size, will need to engage their staff in safety issues. The law stresses that everyone at work is responsible for health and safety.

The law brings some major changes from the old legislation. You can’t contract out.

Under the law, a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU – which could be an individual or a company) must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees, contractors, subcontractors and other workers they engage.

The law also has a new duty of consultation. This means that all those with a duty under the law – the builder, subcontractors and others – must consult, cooperate and coordinate as far as reasonably practicable to ensure compliance with the duty.

Workers or officers, including directors, are not the PCBU but will have separate personal liability. Directors can be prosecuted if they don’t exercise due diligence to ensure the PCBU complies with its duties and obligations, so they will need to know about how health and safety is being taken care of on the job.

The law puts safety ahead of cost unless it the cost is ‘grossly disproportionate’ to the risk.

Small businesses will need to think hard about how to spend money ensuring health and safety. It may mean giving up some jobs if the risks are too great.

If penalties are imposed on company directors and the firm itself, that could be a huge challenge for a small building company.


Updated: 6 Septemberl 2017