Implementing the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: Better regulation - plant, structures and working at heights

Submissions closed: 04 October 2019, 5pm


The discussion paper sought feedback on how to improve protections for people working with plant, structures, heights and excavations. 

The discussion paper covers:

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

We wanted your feedback on the different options, their effectiveness, and any impacts on you or your organisation. Your feedback has helped inform the proposed changes the Government is making to the regulations

The submissions deadline was 5pm on 4 October 2019.

What we consulted on

We want to make sure the regulatory health and safety framework effectively supports businesses to manage risks without disproportionate costs or hurdles, and protects workers from harm.

We looked at plant, structures, working at heights and excavation work first because:

  • They are everywhere and affect everyone – they are used in lots of different sectors and types of work, from agriculture and construction to education and health. They affect workers, businesses and other people interacting with that work
  • Business and workers need a better way to manage risks well – the regulations are weak, ad hoc, out of date, full of gaps and hard to understand
  • They kill and severely injure lots of people every day – plant and structures are involved in 76% of work-related deaths

Some of the problems include:

  • Some of the rules aren’t clear or there is confusion – so there is over compliance and increased costs, e.g. for work at heights, scaffolding and excavation work
  • Most of these risks have been around forever and they’re still not being done well, or we need to ensure that they keep being done well, e.g. badly guarded machines, good design of structures and machines, high-risk plant
  • We need to keep up with changes in practice and emerging technology to ensure benefits are realised and any risks managed

Some of our ideas to make the framework better include:

  • Making the rules clear, while retaining flexibility to do what’s best in each case
  • Improving risk assessment and management
  • Making sure people have the right information to ensure health and safety at work
  • Improving oversight and transparency of very high risk things.

You’ll be interested in this discussion paper if you work in or run a business that involves plant, structures, heights or excavations. Local bodies, members of Māori, Pasifika and ethnic communities and health and safety specialists will also be interested.

Different people will have different interests in the discussion paper depending on what sector they are in and what kind of work they do.

The Cabinet Paper and Minute for the discussion paper are available below:

We have developed factsheets to support different sectors and summaries of each chapter:

Next steps

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety has recently announced a public consultation on the wider work health and safety regulatory system. 

Go to the Have Your Say page on work health and safety to read more about this consultation and how to be involved:

Have your say: Work health and safety

Further work on the Plant and Structures regulations is therefore currently on hold, pending the outcome of the public consultation on the wider work health and safety system. The next steps for the Plant and Structures work will be informed by the feedback received during the public consultation on the wider system. 

Please feel free to contact us at with any questions.

Last updated: 12 June 2024