Health & Safety network

The Health and Safety in Employment Act has been in effect since 2003 and applies to every workplace, employee and employer.

The Act is based on the principles of partnership and consultation:

  • health and safety is everyone's responsibility
  • employees are encouraged to participate in decisions on health and safety
  • elected and trained health and safety representatives are key to a safe workplace
  • unions have the right to represent members on health and safety issues.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act now reflects international experience showing the best results come from employers and union representatives working together, in good faith, to make the workplace safe and healthy. New Zealand has a poor health and safety record. Every year thousands of people are physically or mentally damaged at work, some fatally. The Health and Safety in Employment Act now says everyone has a part to play in identifying and removing workplace hazards.

Hazards are not limited to building sites or dangerous chemicals.

A hazard is anything that could cause physical or mental harm. Hazards can include:

  • Unmanageable workloads
  • Angry, unpredictable members of the public
  • Exposure to infection
  • Work stations not ergonomically correct
  • Working alone
  • Inadequate training
  • Poorly designed office space
  • Workplace bullying
  • Poor lighting or ventilation inadequate equipment.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act recognises that every workplace is different so there is no single solution that can be applied across the board. But every workplace needs a health and safety system. Employees, union representatives and employers are required to work together to find the best systems for a safe and healthy workplace.

At the heart of the Health and Safety Act is the need for: 

  • A genuine partnership between employees, unions and employers on health and safety 
  • Trained health and safety representatives, elected by their colleagues.

The horrific events in Ashburton have focused attention on the risks of violence at work that many PSA members face on a daily basis. While incidents as serious as this are rare there are many occasions on which members suffer physical or psychological harm arising from violence by clients or members of the public.

We think that it is timely for employers and workers to review security policies and procedures to make sure that they are still fit for purpose and we understand that many agencies are already doing this. This guidance is designed to help you (together with PSA delegates)  engage with your employers on this important issue.

The PSA is also be involved in the recently announced review of security at MSD and it is our expectation that the findings from this review, once concluded, will be shared with other agencies. This in turn might lead agencies to have another look at their policies and practices and we will developing a more comprehensive resource than the one we have attached to assist you with this.


The PSA encourages all members and employers to use the bullying prevention tools developed by WorkSafe.

Worksafe has a range of tools and information available on their website help prevent workplace bullying or respond to it if it is occurring in the workplace.

It offers a range of options from low-key solutions to undertaking investigations.

Go to the Worksafe website now.

Media Releases

Health and safety paramount as Worksafe launch prosecution over Ashburton killings

The Public Service Association (PSA) says Worksafe’s announcement that they have filed a charge against the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) following the tragic shootings at Ashburton Work and Income shows the importance that must be placed on health and safety in the workplace.

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Campaigns and issues from the PSA. Better, Safer, Fairer- Save Our 4X2 Roster

Better, Safer, Fairer- Save Our 4X2 Roster

Saving our 4 x 2 roster at Waikato DHB will help protect mental health patients, nurses and staff everywhere.

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Media Releases

Report lays secure foundations for state sector following Ashburton tragedy

The Public Service Association (PSA) says the Independent review of the security environment for the Ministry of Social Development, commissioned following the tragic shootings at the Ashburton Work and Income office, lays the groundwork for ensuring the safety of all public sector workers.

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News from the PSA. Congress 2014

Congress 2014

Post-election analysis, Transforming the Workplace, a union merger and gender equity were the hot topics at last week’s congress.

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News from the PSA. Bullying: advice you can use

Bullying: advice you can use

Bullying is probably our most prevalent workplace hazard so it’s good to see the new health and safety agency, WorkSafe, publishing practical guidelines on ways to deal with it.

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