Health and Safety law change to help keep workers safer
Published: 14 June 2023
The Health and Safety at Work (Health and Safety Representatives and Committees) Amendment Act has now passed into law.
These changes increase workers’ access to health and safety representatives, and health and safety committees.
Workers are best placed to identify how they want to be represented when it comes to workplace health and safety. International evidence shows that strong worker participation in health and safety systems play a fundamental role in reducing work-related harm.
These changes mean that:
- If a worker asks for a health and safety representative, the business must initiate an election. Previously, smaller businesses in sectors that were not prescribed high-risk could decline these requests.
- If a health and safety representative or 5 or more workers ask for a health and safety committee, the business must establish one. Previously, a business could refuse a request to establish a committee where the business is satisfied existing practices sufficiently meet the requirements.
The Act does not make health and safety representatives or committees mandatory for businesses. Businesses will only be required to initiate an election for representatives, or establish a committee where workers request them.
The previous law may have limited workers from being represented in the way they believe would best protect them against workplace risks, and with New Zealand’s poor workplace health and safety record, we need to do everything we can to support people to feel safe at work.
WorkSafe will be updating their guidance shortly to reflect these changes.
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