Legislative Acts which establish boundaries of massage practice in New Zealand/Occupational Health and Safety requirements
Objectives of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 governs health and safety issues involving massage therapists in employment. It is broken down into two main areas:
- Employee responsibilities
- Employer responsibilities
The only real employee responsibility under the Act is to ensure that an employee must participate in ongoing processes for the improvement of health and safety in the employees’ places of work. The employer has an obligation for the development of an employee participation system.
An employee must ensure that any work that they undertake as a massage therapist does not cause serious harm to a client.
an employer must comply with all of the matters contained in the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. In particular an employer must take all practical steps to ensure that its employees have knowledge about how to avoid harm to their clients and themselves.
In addition to this an employer can also be held liable for failing to provide an adequate and appropriate work environment to reduce the likelihood of harm to employees. For example providing a massage table without the ability to adjust its height for an employee 6’ 6 inches tall could result in a serious back injury to the employee. For example over booking a massage therapist over a lengthy period of time could result in physical or mental harm caused by work related stress.
Penalties for non-compliance
The penalties vary from not less than $100 and up to $3,000 where an infringement notice has been issued for matters of a minor nature. Where matters are of a major nature and warnings have been given and still the employer continues with practices that may result in serious harm or have resulted in serious harm to a patient then the penalties can be as high as $500,000. Of course a penalty of up to $500,000 would normally be where a continued negligent act has resulted in the death or serious harm to a client.