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​​Health and safety

All agencies who are part of a co-location have health and safety responsibilities.

Work health and safety law

The legislative framework in New Zealand is made up of:

  1. the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), which sets out principles, duties and rights in relation to workplace health and safety
  2. the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 (HSW General Regulations). These expand on the health and safety duties in the HWSA and set standards for managing certain risks and hazards
  3. other regulations passed under the HSWA. These expand on aspects of the HSWA and help regulate specific activities.

The law is also supported by approved codes of practice (ACOPs) and guidance in the form of:

  • standards
  • interpretative guidelines
  • factsheets
  • good practice guides and position statements (neither of which are legally binding).

This guidance sets out the key obligations generally on agencies in relation to the HWSA and the HSW General Regulations within the context of co-locations. As the HWSA is a new law, we anticipate this guidance will evolve as the law is interpreted and applied. It’s not a substitute for specialist health and safety or legal advice.

When developing health and safety procedures for co-locations, you should:

  • consult with your internal health and safety or legal teams
  • contact Worksafe directly, or get further information from the Worksafe website.


The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

The HSWA helps businesses manage their health and safety risk by:

  • making sure we’re working smarter, targeting risk and working together
  • making everyone’s responsibilities clearer
  • recognising modern working relationships, including moving away from the traditional employer/ employee relationship to defining work and workers in a much broader sense
  • recognising that businesses – like government agencies – often work together or are co-located together, so cooperating on health and safety is the most effective and pragmatic approach
  • recognising that worker engagement and participation in health and safety is one of the most effective and productive ways of identifying and finding solutions to managing risk.

There are 5 key concepts to the HWSA:

  1. PCBUs and primary duty of care (agency responsibilities)
  2. officer and due diligence (senior leader responsibilities)
  3. overlapping duties (working with other agencies)
  4. worker duties (worker responsibilities)
  5. worker engagement and participation (worker participation).

PCBU and primary duty of care

The HSWA introduces the concept of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’, known as a PCBU. The PCBU has a primary duty to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other persons are not put at risk by its work.

A PCBU, so far as is reasonably practicable must ensure:

  • the health and safety of its workers, ie its employees and its contractors’ and subcontractors’ employees
  • the health and safety of any other workers whose activities it influences or directs
  • that the health and safety of other people, including customers, visitors, or the general public is not put at risk from any work it carries out.

In the context of co-locations both the lead agency and each participating agency is a PCBU. Each agency might owe its primary duty to another agency’s staff, either because it influences or directs their activities, or because its work might put the health and safety of the other agency’s staff at risk. This may create some overlapping duties which PCBUs must engage together on.

All agencies will need to consult, cooperate and coordinate activities to meet their shared responsibilities.

PCBUs can't contract out of these duties. However, they can contract to meet their duties by making reasonable arrangements with other PCBUs to take responsibility for certain actions, and verifying these are done.

PCBU duties relating to the physical workplace

The lead agency, as a PCBU, has a high level of influence and control over the health and safety of workers at the co-located site. They have a primary duty of care with respect to the site as:

  • a facility
  • a place of work for employees, including its own staff, co-located staff and contractors
  • other people who visit the site, like customers and visitors.

Participating agencies, as PCBUs, have a moderate level of influence and control over health and safety at the co-located site. Participating agencies have a primary duty of care for their own staff and to work together with other PCBUs co-located at the site. This means agreeing arrangements for keeping people healthy and safe, and helping maintain building hazard registers.

This split of responsibilities proposed by the lead agency concept makes the ongoing management of the facilities and meeting obligations under the HSWA simpler for all parties.

Specific and ongoing duties that will, or might, apply to premises

Summary of the obligationSpecific obligationComments
A PCBU that manages or controls workplace facilities. Must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace, how people enter and exit the workplace, and anything else that may arise from the workplace, does not put anyone’s health and safety at risk.

Lead Agency coordinates key factors with cooperation from participating agencies.

Key factors PCBUs will need to consider in relation to managing workplace facilities, specifically for the co-location site include coordinated:

  • Health & safety plans
  • Health & safety representatives and governance structures
  • Health & safety registers
  • Emergency preparedness plan
  • Incident management plans
  • Hazard identification & control
  • Notification process for notifiable events
  • Health and safety training 

A PCBU that manages or controls the fixtures, fittings or plant at workplaces. 

Must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the fixtures, fittings and plant do not put anyone’s health and safety at risk. 

To provide first aid. 

Must ensure that first aid equipment adequate and appropriate for the functions/scale/operations of the site is provided and accessible by all workers.

An adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid, appropriate for the functions/ scale/operations of the site, and accessible by all workers. 

Lead agency provides and maintains first aid equipment.

All agencies to identify and train first aiders as appropriate to the size of their groups. 

A PCBU must prepare, maintain and implement emergency plan for the building. 

Must ensure an emergency plan is prepared for the workplace including evaluation procedures, notifying emergency service organisations, communication procedures, procedure testing and training. 

Lead agency develops coordinated plan for the premises in consultation with participating agencies. 

To engage with its workers on health and safety matters.  PCBU’s must, so far as reasonably practicable, engage with its workers on health and safety matters that affect workers.

Lead agency coordinates a health and safety committee for the co-location with representation from each participating agency.

For larger co-locations, each PCBU may wish to run separate Health & Safety representative meetings that are agency specific. 

Responsibilities of senior leaders, workers and other people at the workplace

In addition to specific PCBU duties, officers, workers and other people have obligations. These are outlined below. All agencies, both lead and participating, should be aware of these obligations, and should consider how health and safety reporting from co-locations feeds into their broader agency health and safety structures.

Officers (Chief Executive and potentially the Senior Leadership team) have a personal duty to undertake due diligence to make sure their agency complies with its duties and obligations. Specifically, they must take reasonable steps to:

  • understand occupational health and safety (OHS) principles
  • understand agency operations, hazards and risks
  • provide resources and systems to manage risks
  • ensure information about hazards, risks and incidents gets to the top and is actioned
  • ensure compliance
  • verify system performance.

Workers (an agency’s employees and its contractors’ and subcontractors’ employees) must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and make sure their actions don't adversely affect the health and safety of others. They must also follow any reasonable health and safety instruction given to them by the agency, and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety in the workplace. Workers may choose one or more people to speak or act about health and safety matters on their behalf.

Health and Safety representatives and committees are a requirement in certain circumstances for workplaces and can be established as part of the governance structure.

Other people who come into the workplace, such as visitors or customers, also have some health and safety duties to ensure that they take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their actions don’t adversely affect the health and safety of others.

Health and safety governance structure

At a tenancy level, a health and safety committee needs to be established that includes representatives from each agency. This committee discusses site specific health and safety issues and identifies issues that need to be escalated through their respective internal health and safety governance or reporting structures. The health and safety committee is supported by health and safety reps and employees.

How health and safety governance is structured for your co-location site will be dependent on the size and number of agencies in the co-location. One committee made up of representatives from all agencies may be appropriate for smaller sites. The nominated governance group may take on the responsibilities of the health and safety committee. In larger sites it may be necessary to have agency sub-committees that report into a tenancy-level health and safety committee.