This regulatory function policy sets out a high level approach to inspections and how they support WorkSafe to achieve its targets.


WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe) was established as a Crown entity under the WorkSafe New Zealand Act 2013. It is New Zealand’s primary health and safety regulator with the primary objective of securing the health and safety of the worker and workplaces. WorkSafe is also the regulator for the safe supply and use of electricity and gas. 

New Zealand has high rates of workplace fatalities, serious harm injuries, and work related illness compared to other OECD countries. WorkSafe will lead the achievement of the Government targets of: 

  • reducing workplace fatalities and serious injuries by 25 percent by 2020
  • reducing the incidence of pleural cancer (mesothelioma), asbestos related lung cancer and asbestosis by 50 percent by 2040.

In addition to these targets, WorkSafe’s strategic goals include:

  • zero catastrophic events in high hazard sectors
  • a downward trend in electrical and gas fatalities.

WorkSafe provides leadership, support, information and enforcement activities to improve the health and safety of New Zealand’s workplaces.

We undertake assessments, inspections and investigations at workplaces to monitor and enforce compliance with the law. Lessons from our workplace visits inform our operational intelligence and regulatory reviews.

WorkSafe will collaborate with other regulators, as appropriate, to minimise duplication of effort and where practicable, ensure interactions and responses are co-ordinated, consistent and proportionate.

Policy purpose

This regulatory function policy sets out a high level approach to inspections and how they support WorkSafe to achieve its targets. This policy is not intended to be prescriptive in its application, but will guide inspectors and managers in their inspection activities.

Inspections are defined differently by WorkSafe business groups. The Assessment team will refer to inspections as assessments and the High Hazard and Energy Safety Unit as either targeted assessments, inspections or audits. Audits conducted by Energy Safety have a broader focus than work activities and workplaces to include  consumer safety and the protection of property.

Policy scope

Inspections determine whether a duty holder is meeting their obligations under the legislation we administer. For the purposes of this policy an inspection is:

“A targeted and planned examination of a sample of a workplace or work activity to assess the effectiveness of health and safety management.”

The aims of an inspection are to ensure:

  • the health and safety of workers while at work in a business or undertaking
  • the health and safety of workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the PCBU while carrying out work
  • the health and safety of others is not put at risk while carrying out work
  • the result or end product of the work does not pose a risk to the health and safety of others.

For Energy Safety, inspections include auditing energy networks, distribution systems, installations, and appliances relating to the use of electricity and gas in New Zealand. This policy does not cover the following:

  • The authorisation regimes established by regulation under which a licence, permit, registration, consent, certificate, or other authority is required to commence or continue particular work activities. This is covered in the Authorisations Policy.
  • Matters requiring an urgent response from an inspector because there is a credible chance that a person is immediately at risk of death or severe injury. These matters are covered by the Response Policy.
  • WorkSafe’s approach to enforcement. This is covered in the Enforcement Policy.

Purpose of inspections

WorkSafe undertakes inspections to:

  1. ensure duty holders are meeting their obligations under the legislation we administer
  2. understand how well duty holders are identifying and managing risks
  3. promote ways of achieving sustained improvements in managing risks to health and safety.

Inspections are also opportunities to:

  • increase inspectors’ awareness and understanding of particular work activities, processes and new technologies and how they influence practices and risk management
  • gather intelligence on factors that influence industry behaviour
  • build rapport with duty holders.