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We are the system leader for health and safety at work.

Vision, purpose and values


That everyone who goes to work comes home healthy and safe

Ka haere ngā tāngata katoa ki te mahi, ka hoki hauora, haumaru mai ki te kainga


To transform New Zealand’s workplace health and safety performance towards world-class

Kia tāhū nui te hauora, te haumaru i ngā wāhi mahi o Aotearoa


Integrity: Being fair, firm and consistent, showing respect for those we work with

Te Ngākau pono: Ka matatika, ka tina ka whakamatua, ka manaaki tahi i te tāngata

Courage: Standing up for health and safety

Māia: Kia tū hei mātātoa mō te hauora me te haumaru

Responsibility: Being accountable for what we do

Haepapa: kia whai herenga ki ā tātou mahi

What we do

WorkSafe aims to transform New Zealand’s health and safety performance towards world-class. As the regulator, we contribute to, and promote, improved energy safety and workplace health and safety performance. We use our education, engagement and enforcement levers to support our three core roles:

 Regulatory effectiveness

Te whai hua o te ture

  • Undertaking regulatory activity – educating, engaging and enforcing – to support and promote effective health and safety management.
  • Enabling New Zealand to have confidence in WorkSafe as the primary health and safety regulator.
  • Supporting confidence in the effectiveness of the health and safety regulatory regime.

Harm prevention

Te ārai i te kino

  • Targeting critical risks at all levels (sector and system-wide), based on evidence.
  • Delivering targeted interventions (including on workforce capability, worker engagement and effective leadership) to address the drivers of harm.
  • Influencing attitudes and behaviour to improve health and safety risk management.

System leadership

Kaiwhakahaere pūnaha

  • Leading, influencing and leveraging the health and safety system to improve health and safety outcomes.
  • Promoting and supporting tripartite leadership of health and safety with business and workers.
  • Leading by example through WorkSafe’s own health and safety goals.

Our regulatory approach

Government and society expect more from the health and safety system, and WorkSafe as its primary regulator. In our early years we had a focus on responding to acute harm (fatalities or injuries that occur immediately in the workplace) and strengthened our high hazards-related capability in response to the Pike River Coal Mining tragedy. More recently we have increased our focus on hazardous substances following the new Hazardous Substances regulations coming into force in 2017. However, chronic harm (illness, physical and mental that occurs over time) has been less immediately visible. Since establishment, WorkSafe has had a strong energy safety team.

Government’s Health and Safety at Work Strategy 2018-2028(external link) broadens the focus from acute harm to include wider health risks such as psychosocial (including bullying, sexual harassment). These types of harm are more complex. They can arise from multiple causes and have potential intervention points which will require new and innovative interventions. It is essential that workers and their employers are at the centre of what WorkSafe does to reduce all types of harm from work and energy use in New Zealand. This means that WorkSafe’s operating model will need to evolve so that we can appropriately target risk across all harm types.

WorkSafe has limited resources and we can’t respond to all health and safety incidents that fit within the legislation’s broad scope. This means we need to make smart choices and trade-offs about how and when we respond. To support good decision-making across WorkSafe, we will be adopting a regulatory framework to guide our future direction.

Research suggests that there is no ‘best-fit’ regulatory model. They each have their place, and their strengths and weaknesses. WorkSafe has adopted a framework that helps us stay true to our course and resist the pressures that can push a regulator to either over-regulate or under-regulate.

The framework will support the targeting of areas where we can make the greatest difference, while providing flexibility to be responsive to ongoing issues and emerging trends. It will let us be more nuanced and reflective about what we choose to focus our effort on, rather than reacting when harm has already occurred. It means that even though how we choose to intervene will be different depending on the circumstances, our decisions will be made using a consistent set of principles.

This approach will guide the development and evolution of our functions and services over time, so that WorkSafe can be agile and fit for purpose in the way we respond.

Over time, with improvements to intelligence and information, we expect to be able to front-foot more complex and challenging drivers of harm before harm occurs.

Our future regulatory framework

[Diagram] our future regulatory framework

Meeting government expectations

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety has set out clear expectations of WorkSafe that we are fully committed to meeting through our strategic work programme 2019/20, including:

Regulatory Effectiveness

Te whai hua o te ture

  • Work with other regulators to drive best health and safety regulatory practice.
  • Supporting health and safety regulatory reform including implementation.
  • Fulfil Energy safety regulator role and enhance the energy safety regulatory framework.
  • Build on new enforcement and legal tools in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Harm Prevention

Te ārai i te kino

  • Work closely with system partners to build complementary harm prevention capability.
  • Move towards improving outcomes in work-related health (including mental health and the reduction of psychosocial harms).
  • Support improved health and safety outcomes for workers with greater needs (such as Māori, Pasifika and migrant workers).
  • Actively contribute to the goals of the Health and Safety at Work Strategy.

System Leadership

Kaiwhakahaere pūnaha

  • Commitment to a collaborative close relationship with MBIE.
  • Co-lead Health and Safety at Work Strategy Stakeholder Reference Group.
  • Strengthen health and safety engagement at an industry level.
  • Strengthen the framework for worker engagement, participation and representation.


Achieving our goals

Good health and safety at work protects people from harm, but also contributes to the long-term wellbeing and living standards of New Zealanders. A world-class health and safety at work system enables sustainable, inclusive growth in our economy, without compromising our people and our environment.

What we are aiming for


Our context

Government’s priorities are to improve economic performance and social and environmental wellbeing. A Wellbeing Outlook that describes the current state of wellbeing in New Zealand was released alongside the Budget Policy Statement. A wellbeing approach recognises that while sustainable economic growth is important, it does not guarantee improvements to New Zealanders’ living standards. The things that affect the quality of peoples’ lives are much broader than GDP.

As work is a major part of people’s life, health and safety protection at work is a significant contributor to New Zealanders wellbeing. Our work lives are changing with an aging workforce, technological advancements, immigration, climate change and changes to employment law. These are introducing new opportunities and challenges for employers and their workers. These include an increasing focus on psychosocial harm, a culturally and linguistically diverse workforce and adaptable workplace policies and procedures. All of these changes have an impact on increasing the role and expectation on WorkSafe as system leader for health and safety at work.

WorkSafe is committed to lifting New Zealand’s health and safety performance at work. While the health and safety system has made progress, too many people are experiencing harm at work. This harm not only impacts the individual, their family, employer and co-workers but the whole of New Zealand. Within the agricultural sector alone there are, on average, 600 workers at any time off work as a result of harm. That is a significant cost economically to the sector and carries a huge social cost. The forestry and agriculture sectors remain areas of focus.

The current targets for New Zealand include a 25% reduction in work-related fatalities and injuries by 2020, a 50% reduction in asbestos disease by 2040, zero catastrophic events and that fatalities from electrical and gas accidents trend down. A system and culture change is required to meet these targets.

The health and safety at work system

Many groups influence health and safety at work, including regulators, government agencies, sector groups, practitioners, businesses, workers and unions. These groups together form our health and safety system.

In December 2018 the Government’s Health and Safety at Work Strategy(external link) was launched. The Strategy, co-developed by WorkSafe and MBIE, sets out Government’s vision for improving workplace health and safety across New Zealand over the next ten years. Its development flows on from the recommendations of the Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety that reviewed New Zealand’s system in response to the Pike River Coal Mining tragedy in 2012 and from public consultation.

The strategy will support greater integration so participants in the system can work together more effectively to drive improved performance. This will save lives, save money and makes business sense. The next step is to develop an action plan and performance framework to turn the Strategy’s vision into action.

Our funding

We are funded through a single Appropriation, set by Parliament’s Annual Budget process. The majority of funding for the Appropriation is collected through the Working Safer Levy. Other revenue is obtained from targeted fees and a partnership agreement with ACC.

Our funding sources as at 2019/20

image Our funding sources diagram SPE 2019 20
To zoom in on this diagram, click the grey box in the right hand corner.

1 - Section 9, WorkSafe New Zealand Act 2013.(external link)

2 - WorkSafe’s functions are set out in full in section 10, WorkSafe New Zealand Act 2013.(external link)