Get to know the NZ Health and Safety in Employment Act

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Otago Polytechnic arboriculture student 2006


Use the following scenario to get to know your rights and responsibilities for health and safety according to NZ Health and Safety in Employment Act



Kim was working on a job site involving the use of chainsaws. She was employed on an hourly basis as a kind of labourer. She hadn't signed any employment papers, she was just in for a day or two to help on a job. Unfortunately, Kim had a serious accident on that job. The chainsaw she was working with kicked back and cut her through the shoulder seriously. She has lost 90% of mobility in her left arm. Kim is not able to pursue her career as an arborist any longer, and would like to receive compensation for her loss. She believes that the chainsaw she was asked to use was faulty, and that the job site was unsafe. Her employer at the time of the accident will not accept responsibility, even though it is possible that his insurance company will cover the compensation claim. What should Kim do?

Getting to know the Health and Safety Employment Act

View information relating to health and safety in employment at the New Zealand Department of Labour's Health and Safety website. We suggest you head straight for the pdf publication: A Guide to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 - Including the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 2002. Have a good read of the Guide's section relating to Part 2: Duties of Employers (page 21) and find answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the duties and responsibilities of an employer?
  2. What are the duties of an employer in regard to hazard identification?
  3. List as many hazards as you can think of in relation to chainsaw use. Briefly describe an accident you have heard or read about where a chainsaw operator has been injured.
  4. What are the duties of an employer in relation to staff training?
  5. See if you can find the section relating to what the duties of the employee, or a self employed person are?

Write up your responses to these questions and send them to your learning facilitator.

What to do if you are involved in an accident

Emergency Procedures

Where is the first aid kit!?

A first aid kit. Photo by Daquella manera

Kim's employer appears not to have an emergency procedure in place. All employers are required to have such a procedure, and employees are expected to be aware of it.

  1. Locate the emergency procedure for your place of work and scan or photo copy it to send to your learning facilitator
  2. If you are not at your place of work, locate the emergency procedures for your place of learning and scan or photo copy it to send to your learning facilitator

Reporting Procedures

  1. Refer to part 5 page 87 - 99 of A Guide to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
  2. Based on this information prepare a pocket sized step by step guide on what to do in the event of an accident.

How to get care for injuries or damage to health

In New Zealand, people have access to the Accident Compensation Corporation. This corporation covers all New Zealanders for accident and injury expenses, and is paid for through various tax arrangements. New Zealanders have the option to voluntarily pay further weekly installments if they feel that the general compensation will not cover their likely expenses. Your task here is to make contact with the ACC and prepare a plan for your own accident cover. You need to take into account whether you are self employed and/or an employee.

  1. In NZ call 0800 101 996 and speak to general inquiries at the Accident Compensation Corporation.
  2. Tell the operator that you are calling to gather information relating to their services, and describe ALL the likely work situations that you anticipate being involved in
  3. Ask the operator what sort of cover you are entitled to, and find out the steps you need to take to initiate and maintain your cover.
  4. Also, find out what you must do in the event of an accident, and what your process is in making a claim with ACC.
  5. Finally, write up in your own words what you have found out, and prepare an annual plan with steps you will need to take to check the status of your cover and what you need to do to maintain it.

Legal representation

In New Zealand all New Zealanders have access to basic legal advice by way of Regional Community Law Centres, sometimes called Legal Aid. Your task is to contact your local COmmunity Law Centre and acquire information on the steps you must take if you are invloved in a legal issue relating to accidents inthe workplace. You may have to provide a scenario for them to advise on. Consider the scenario used in this activity.

Support materials

Introduction to the New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

Who Does the Act Apply to?

Responsibilities of Employers

Responsibilities of Employees

Systems Used For Workplace Health and Safety

How Hazards are Defined in the Health and Safety in Employment Act