Understanding the Responsibilities of Directors under the NZ Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

As a director, you play a crucial role in ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved in your company’s operations. With the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in New Zealand, your responsibility has become even more significant. The Act has significantly increased directors’ liabilities for any breach of health and safety obligations. As such, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your duties and responsibilities. In this blog, we will discuss the responsibilities of directors under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and how you can meet these obligations.

Identify and Manage Risks
One of the critical responsibilities of directors is to identify and manage risks that may cause harm to workers or other people. To achieve this, directors must have a thorough understanding of the company’s operations and the associated hazards. It is essential to have a robust safety management system that clearly outlines the risks and the process for managing them. The system should also detail the responsibilities of each employee in managing the risks. As directors, it is your responsibility to ensure that the management system is implemented effectively and that employees are aware of their obligations.

Consultation and Involvement
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 places great emphasis on consultation and involving employees in health and safety matters. Directors must ensure that the company has a mechanism that enables employees to participate in the decision-making processes that affect their health and safety. Workers are the ones exposed to risks daily, and it is essential to listen to their views and opinions on the best ways to manage those risks.

Due Diligence
Directors must exercise due diligence in ensuring that the company complies with the health and safety requirements. Due diligence involves being proactive in identifying and assessing risks and putting in place controls to minimise those risks. It also entails regularly reviewing the safety management system to ensure its effectiveness. As directors, you must also ensure that those involved in the company’s operations, including the board members and senior management, undertake their safety duties and responsibilities.

Monitor and Review
Directors must continually monitor and regularly review the company’s health and safety performance. This involves establishing performance indicators that enable you to assess the effectiveness of the safety management system. Performance indicators may include the number of incidents reported, the frequency rate of incidents, the number of near misses and hazard reports, and the level of training and competence of workers. Through monitoring and reviewing the performance, directors can identify areas that need improvement and implement strategies for improvement.

Reporting and Disclosure
Lastly, directors must ensure that there is transparency in reporting and disclosing health and safety information. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires companies to report all notifiable incidents to WorkSafe New Zealand and disclose the information to workers and other parties who may be affected. As directors, it is your duty to ensure that all incidents are appropriately reported and disclosed to the relevant parties.

In conclusion , Directors play a vital role in ensuring that companies comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. This Act places significant responsibilities on directors to identify and manage risks, consult and involve employees, exercise due diligence, monitor and review performance, and report and disclose health and safety information. Failing to meet these obligations can result in severe consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and reputational damage. Therefore, it is imperative to take your responsibilities seriously, implement effective safety management systems, and involve all stakeholders in health and safety decision-making processes. By doing so, you can ensure that your company is a safe place to work, minimise the risks of accidents and injuries, and build a strong safety culture.


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