Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: Plant, structures and working at heights

The Government has announced changes to the regulations that sit under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

About the changes

The changes to the regulatory framework will provide more clarity and certainty for businesses, and better safety and health for workers.

This isn’t about creating cumbersome new requirements, it’s about ensuring better regulations to keep workers safe. In the last decade, an average of 54 people died at work each year from injuries involving plant (such as workplace machinery, vehicles and equipment) and structures (such as scaffolding and excavations).

The existing regulations are outdated and full of gaps. They are being modernised to ensure they are clear, effective, proportionate and durable. By updating the regulations, businesses are supported to better manage the risks in their workplaces, and reduce work-related harm and fatalities.

The improved regulations will bring New Zealand up to international health and safety standards. New Zealand’s work-related injury fatality rate is comparatively high, approximately twice that of Australia and 4 times the rate of the United Kingdom.

The improvements include:

  • Clearer and stronger rules for working at heights, with the right level of protection based on the level of risk involved.
  • Appropriate guarding for dangerous workplace machinery.
  • Clearer requirements for managing the risks of excavation work, including a “check before you dig” requirement for underground services.
  • High-risk plant such as cranes and boilers will continue to be regularly inspected but will also need to be registered with WorkSafe New Zealand.
  • More types of plant, such as steep-slope forestry equipment, will undergo design checks and be required to be regularly inspected to ensure they’re in a safe condition.
  • Mobile plant, such as quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles, will need to have a suitable combination of devices to protect the operator, such as roll-over and crush protection, helmets and seatbelts as appropriate.
  • Offences for breaching the regulations that are proportionate to the risk of harm.
  • Managing risks across the supply chain by clarifying existing requirements of designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant.

This is part of the regulatory reform programme to continue implementing the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Background information about the reform programme and additional documents

Key documents

Next steps

An early draft of the proposed regulations will be released in early 2022 for further feedback, and to test the detail.

The changes are expected to come into force in late 2022.

You can join our mailing list to register your interest in receiving a draft of the regulations in early 2022.

Subscribe to our mailing list(external link)

Background documents

Plant and structures consultation

In July 2019, the Government released a discussion paper that sought feedback on how to improve protections for people working with plant, structures, heights and excavations. 

The discussion paper covered:

  • Plant
  • Mobile plant
  • Design, manufacture, supply, import and installation of plant or structures
  • High-risk plant
  • Working at heights and scaffolding
  • Excavation work

The submissions closed on 4 October 2019.

More information about the consultation and additional documents

Proactive release of other reference documents

Last updated: 26 October 2021