Health and Safety: Reform Update

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Authors: Tim Clarke and Anna Holland

Health and Safety Reform Bill

In August this year we reported on the Government's announcement of its intention to reform New Zealand's workplace health and safety legislative framework, which has been described as the most significant reform of New Zealand's health and safety system in 20 years.

The reform will involve repealing the Health and Safety in Employment Act and replacing it with a new Act. The timing in relation to the Health and Safety Reform Bill has recently been revised, and the Bill is now scheduled to be introduced into the House early next year. At this stage, it is anticipated that the Bill will be passed into legislation in late 2014 and will come into force by 1 April 2015.

In the meantime, on 29 October 2013 MBIE released a "Health and Safety Reform Bill" exposure draft for public comment. The exposure draft gave interested persons a first look at what key provisions of the new law are likely to look like. The purpose of the exposure draft was to test some issues of detail at an early stage. MBIE only gave a limited two-week timeframe for feedback and will publish the content of all the feedback it received as part of this process.

After the Bill has been introduced into Parliament next year, it will go to the select committee. This will be the main opportunity for interested persons to provide written and oral submissions on the Bill.

New mining and quarrying regulations approved

Last week Cabinet has approved new regulations for mining health and safety. The Health and Safety in Employment (Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations) Regulations 2013 came into force yesterday, and replace the Health and Safety in Employment (Mining Administration) Regulation 1996 and the Health and Safety in Employment (Mining-Underground) Regulations 1999.

The new regulations cover improved mining hazard and risk management, increased training, stronger worker participation systems and new emergency measures.


The associated changes to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (made through the Pike River Implementation legislation) also came into force yesterday. These changes include the commencement of operations of WorkSafe New Zealand.

WorkSafe is a new stand-alone Crown agency which has a single-minded, dedicated focus on health and safety. WorkSafe has assumed the operational functions of the Health and Safety Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (previously the Department of Labour).

Professor Gregor Coster is the Board Chair of WorkSafe. WorkSafe recently announced the appointment of Gordon MacDonald as Chief Executive, effective 17 March 2014. Mr MacDonald has had a 35-year career with the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and will take over from Acting Chief Executive Geoffrey Podger, who departs on 28 March 2014. More information is available at‚Äč


This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.

For more information
  • Tim Clarke

    Partner Auckland
  • Rachael Brown

    Partner Wellington
Related areas of expertise
  • Employment and workplace safety
  • Health and safety