;

These guidelines provide practical advice for organisations on how to keep volunteers healthy and safe at work.

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Keeping volunteers healthy and safe (PDF 3.6 MB)

Key points

  • Certain organisations with volunteers have health and safety duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) – New Zealand’s key work health and safety law.
  • These organisations have duties that cover the work they do, their workplaces and their volunteers.
  • Volunteers and officers of these organisations have their own health and safety duties to meet.

1. Introduction

These guidelines can help organisations work out if they have work health and safety duties, and what those duties are.

1.1 Who are these guidelines for?

These guidelines are for organisations with volunteers.

Volunteers are people who are not paid for the voluntary work they do. Many organisations involve volunteers, for example:

  • an organisation fully run by volunteers (such as a community group that maintains a local reserve)
  • a business or an organisation with employees that also involves volunteers in their activities (such as a national charity that uses volunteers to help support their charity shops).

1.2 Why should organisations read these guidelines?

Certain organisations with volunteers have duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) – New Zealand’s key work health and safety law.

These guidelines can help organisations work out if they have health and safety duties.

If organisations do have duties, these guidelines explain what those duties are, and how to keep volunteers and others healthy and safe.

1.3 What do these guidelines cover?

These guidelines cover the following topics.

If you have work health and safety duties

2.0 Does your organisation have work health and safety duties?

Certain organisations with volunteers have work health and safety duties.

If you are unsure whether your organisation has work health and safety duties, this section can help you.

2.1 Does your organisation have duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA)?

For your organisation to have work health and safety duties, it must be a ‘person conducting a business or understanding’ (PCBU).

There are certain organisations with volunteers (called ‘volunteer associations’) that are not classed as PCBUs. Volunteer associations do not have HSWA duties.

Use the flowchart in Figure 1 to work out whether your organisation is a volunteer association or a PCBU.

Section 2.3 provides worked examples using this flowchart.

2.2 Is your organisation a volunteer association or a PCBU?

Use the flowchart below to work out if your organisation has health and safety duties.

[image] Flowchart: Is your organisation a volunteer association or PCBU?
Figure 1: Flowchart: Is your organisation a volunteer association or a PCBU?

1. Is your organisation a group of volunteersa working for a community purposeb?

If no: You are a PCBU, and HSWA applies. You have work health and safety duties.

If yes: Go to question 2.

2. Do you have employees,c as well as volunteers?

If no: You are a volunteer association, and HSWA does not apply. You do not have work health and safety duties under HSWA.

If yes: You are a PCBU, and HSWA applies. You have work health and safety duties.

Footnotes

a. A volunteer is someone not paid for the voluntary work they do. Volunteers can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses (for example, petrol expenses if the volunteer work requires them to drive).

b. Community purpose could include the promotion of art, culture, science, religion, education, medicine, or to support a charity, sport or recreation activity.

c. An employee is a person employed to do work for hire or reward under a contract of service (commonly called an employment agreement). A person engaged to work as a contractor under a contract for services is not an employee.

End of text alternative for Figure 1.

2.3 Examples: Are they a volunteer association or a PCBU?

These examples show how to use the Figure 1 flowchart to work out if an organisation has health and safety duties under HSWA.

Example: Community park beautification group

Jane, her husband Erik, and three other people work on a voluntary basis to maintain and enhance their local public park. The local city council supports their work by providing plants and gardening materials.

Is this group a PCBU?

  1. Do they work for a community purpose?
    Yes – maintaining the local park.
  2. Do they have employees?
    No.

Jane, Erik, and their group are a volunteer association – they do not have HSWA duties.

Example: Art for All

Art for All is a group of artists who volunteer to run painting classes for elderly and vulnerable people in the community. Classes are run out of an artist’s home studio, and a small fee is charged to cover the art materials.

Tito, a self-employed picture framer, is contracted to frame the finished masterpieces.

Is this group a PCBU?

  1. Do they work for a community purpose?
    Yes – supporting vulnerable people.
  2. Do they have employees?
    No – Tito’s work is carried out under a contract for services, as opposed to a contract of service (an employment agreement), so he is not an employee.

Art for All is a volunteer association – it does not have HSWA duties.

Example: Community youth club

A community youth club runs evening and weekend events for local youth to attend to help them to develop positive relationships and life skills. The club is run by volunteers, and it employs a youth leader to work with its members.

Is this group a PCBU?

  1. Do they work for a community purpose?
    Yes – supporting youth.
  2. Do they have employees?
    Yes – the youth leader is an employee.

The community youth club is a PCBU – it has HSWA duties to its employee, volunteers and others.

Example: Local football club

A local football club is run by a group of volunteers who provide their time to coach and referee children’s football. They employ Astrid as a part-time grounds maintenance worker.

Is this group a PCBU?

  1. Do they work for a community purpose?
    Yes – sports in the local community.
  2. Do they have employees?
    Yes – Astrid is an employee.

The football club is a PCBU – it has HSWA duties to its employee, volunteers, and others.

2.4 If you have regional and national offices, are you one PCBU or many?

Your organisation’s structure will determine whether regional offices are classed as PCBUs in their own right or form part of a nationwide PCBU.

Your regional offices will likely be PCBUs if they are recognised as separate entities.

In these circumstances, the PCBUs that form part of the wider organisation must work together to manage risks.

See Appendix 4 for guidance on working together with other PCBUs.

2.5 What should you know if your organisation is classed as a volunteer association (not a PCBU)?

Even though your organisation does not have work health and safety duties, it may still have other duties. For example, there is a common law duty to take reasonable care of people involved in your activities. What is reasonable will depend on how serious the possible risks are, and how likely they could occur. For an example of what the duty of care could look like: communitytoolkit.org.nz(external link)

Your organisation should still adopt good work practices to keep your volunteers healthy and safe. Section 5 provides guidance on managing health and safety risks.

2.6 What should you read next?

Is your organisation a PCBU?

If yes

You have HSWA duties. Keep reading to find out what these are.

If no

You do not have HSWA duties but should still adopt good work practices to keep your volunteers healthy and safe. You could read Section 5 for guidance on managing risk.

3.0 What type of volunteers do you have?

Under HSWA, there are two types of volunteers.

Your volunteers will either be:

  • volunteer workers or
  • the volunteers that do not meet the definition of ‘volunteer workers’ – we call these ‘casual volunteers’ in these guidelines.

For certain requirements, PCBUs have different health and safety duties towards volunteer workers and casual volunteers.

The next step is to work out what type(s) of volunteers you have. This section will help you to do this.

3.1 How can you work out what type of volunteers you have?

The flowchart in Figure 2 will help you to work out if your volunteers are ‘volunteer workers’ or ‘casual volunteers’.

Section 3.3 provides worked examples using this flowchart.

3.2 Do you have volunteer workers or casual volunteers?

[image] Flowchart: Do you have volunteer workers or casual volunteers?
Figure 2: Flowchart: Do you have volunteer workers or casual volunteers?

Do you have volunteer workers or casual volunteers?

1. Confirm they are a volunteera

If yes: Go to question 2.

2. Does the volunteer work with your agreement or knowledge?

If no: They are a casual volunteer. Under HSWA, casual volunteers are classed as ‘other persons’ at a workplace.

If yes: Go to question 3.

3. Is their work ongoing and regular?

If no: They are a casual volunteer. Under HSWA, casual volunteers are classed as ‘other persons’ at a workplace.

If yes: Go to question 4.

4. Is their work an integral part of your organisation?

If no: They are a casual volunteer. Under HSWA, casual volunteers are classed as ‘other persons’ at a workplace.

If yes: Go to question 5.

5. Does the work they do only involve helping with fundraising?

If yes: They are a casual volunteer. Under HSWA, casual volunteers are classed as ‘other persons’ at a workplace.

If no: Go to question 6.

6. Does the work they do only involve helping with sports or recreation? (for a sports or recreation club, or an educational institution)

If yes: They are a casual volunteer. Under HSWA, casual volunteers are classed as ‘other persons’ at a workplace.

If no: Go to question 7.

7. Does the work they do only involve helping with activities for an educational institute outside its premises?

If yes: They are a casual volunteer. Under HSWA, casual volunteers are classed as ‘other persons’ at a workplace.

If no: Go to question 8.

8. Does the work they do only involve caring for another person in the volunteer’s home?

If yes: They are a casual volunteer. Under HSWA, casual volunteers are classed as ‘other persons’ at a workplace.

If no: They are a volunteer worker. Under HSWA, volunteer workers are classed as 'workers'.

Footnote

a. A volunteer is someone not paid for the voluntary work they do. Volunteers can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses (for example, petrol expenses if the volunteer work requires them to drive).

End of text alternative for Figure 2.

3.3 Examples: Are they volunteer workers or casual volunteers?

The following examples use Figure 2 to work out if volunteers are ‘volunteer workers’ or ‘casual volunteers’.

Example: Lawn mowing for the local community hall

Shane lives next door to the community hall. When he mows his own lawns, he also mows the community hall’s lawn. Shane has an agreement with the community hall that he will mow the lawns at no cost. Shane has volunteered to mow the lawns.

What type of volunteer is Shane?

  1. Does he work with the knowledge of the PCBU?
    Yes.
  2. Does he work on an ongoing and regular basis?
    Yes.
  3. Does his work form an integral part of the organisation?
    No.

Shane is a casual volunteer.

Example: Animal shelter volunteer

Basma volunteers at the local animal rescue shelter three mornings a week at set times. She feeds and exercises the animals and cleans their cages.

What type of volunteer is Basma?

  1. Does she work with the knowledge of her PCBU?
    Yes.
  2. Does she work on an ongoing and regular basis?
    Yes.
  3. Does her work form an integral part of the organisation?
    Yes, the shelter could not continue if the animals were not fed, or their cages cleaned.
  4. Does she only take part in fundraising?
    No.
  5. Does she only help with sports or recreation?
    No.
  6. Does she only help with activities for an educational institute outside its premises?
    No.
  7. Does she only provide care for another person in her home?
    No.

Basma is a volunteer worker.

Example: Street appeal fundraiser

Each year Rahul volunteers to help fundraise for his favourite children’s charity street appeal.

What type of volunteer is Rahul?

  1. Does he work with the knowledge of his PCBU?
    Yes.
  2. Does he work on an ongoing and regular basis?
    No, Rahul only volunteers once a year for fundraising.

Rahul is a casual volunteer.

Example: Carer for children of trauma victims

Manaia is a university student who supports local families that have been victims of crime or trauma. Manaia is registered as a volunteer for a national trauma support organisation. Manaia provides childcare in her own home to allow parents and other adult family members to receive help from the support workers at the organisation.

What type of volunteer is Manaia?

  1. Does she work with the knowledge of her PCBU?
    Yes.
  2. Does she work on an ongoing and regular basis?
    Yes.
  3. Does her work form an integral part of the organisation?
    Yes, the primary function of the trauma support organisation is counselling and support to the families. Childcare to support families during this process is considered integral.
  4. Does she only participate in fundraising?
    No.
  5. Does she only assist with sports or recreation?
    No.
  6. Does she only assist with activities for an educational institute outside its premises?
    No.
  7. Does she only provide care for another person in her home?
    Yes.

Manaia is a casual volunteer.

Example: Speak Freely – Improving English language skills

Speak Freely is a group of volunteers who meet with people in their community who want to improve their English language skills. Many attendees have English as a second language and enjoy the opportunity to practice their new skills with other English-speaking adults.

Speak Freely employs Amanda as an office administrator to help with enrolments and the administration process. Amanda is an employee, not a volunteer.

Paul is one of the many volunteers who are rostered on to spend time at the local community centre reading and talking with participants. His shifts may not be at the same day and time.

What type of volunteer is Paul?

  1. Does he work with the knowledge of the PCBU?
    Yes.
  2. Does he work on an ongoing and regular basis?
    Yes. Although Paul’s shifts may vary, he has the expectation of continuing work. ‘Ongoing and regular’ does not mean this work needs to be at a set time or day of the week.
  3. Does his work form an integral part of the organisation?
    Yes.
  4. Does he only participate in fundraising?
    No.
  5. Does he only assist with sports or recreation?
    No.
  6. Does he only assist with activities for an educational institute outside its premises?
    No.
  7. Does he only provide care for another person in his home?
    No.

Paul is a volunteer worker.

Example: Local football club

A local football club is run by a group of volunteers who provide their time to coach and referee children’s football. Tamati is one of the volunteers who help run the club. He coaches two teams, attends games, and is part of the club committee.

What type of volunteer is Tamati?

  1. Does he work with the knowledge of the PCBU?
    Yes.
  2. Does he work on an ongoing and regular basis?
    Yes.
  3. Does his work form an integral part of their undertaking?
    Yes.
  4. Does he only participate in fundraising?
    No.
  5. Does he only assist with sports or recreation?
    Yes.

Tamati is a casual volunteer.

Example: Local kindergarten: working bee

The local kindergarten runs a working bee. Carers and community members volunteer to provide basic maintenance of the kindergarten playground including laying bark, gardening, and painting.

What type of volunteers are the people at the working bee?

  1. Do they work with the knowledge of the PCBU?
    Yes.
  2. Do they work on an ongoing and regular basis?
    No.

They are casual volunteers.

3.4 What should you read next?

Section 4 explains your organisation’s health and safety duties – including where there is a difference between volunteer worker and casual volunteer requirements.

4.0 What are your health and safety duties?

PCBUs must keep all volunteers healthy and safe.

As a PCBU, your organisation has health and safety duties that cover:

  • the work you do
  • your workplace
  • your workers and other people at your workplace.

There are overarching duties that apply to all PCBUs. There are also duties that depend on the type of work activities you do, and the type of volunteers you have.

This section provides a high-level summary of those duties for those new to HSWA.

4.1 What overarching duties do you have?

What are the key duties to be aware of?

There are overarching duties that all PCBUs have. These are summarised next.

Primary duty of care

What is the primary duty of care?

As a PCBU, your organisation must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that other persons are not put at risk by its work. This is called `the primary duty of care’.

What does ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ mean?

Just because something is possible to do, does not mean it is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

Consider:

  • What possible actions can be taken to ensure health and safety?
  • Of these possible actions, at a particular time, what is reasonable to do?

For more information, see Appendix 3

Managing work risks

What is your duty to manage work risks?

Risks to health and safety arise from people being exposed to hazards (anything that can cause harm).

You must first try to eliminate a risk so far as is reasonably practicable.

If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, it must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

We describe how to manage risks in Section 5

Working with other PCBUs

When must you work with other PCBUs?

Often two or more PCBUs work together.

This could be when you share a workplace with another PCBU. Another example is in a nationwide organisation that comprises of multiple PCBUs (the national office and local offices are separate PCBUs).

All PCBUs involved must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate, and coordinate activities with other PCBUs they share duties with. This could include managing shared risks.

See Appendix 4 for more information on PCBUs working together.

Notifying WorkSafe

When must you notify WorkSafe?

You must tell WorkSafe when certain things (called notifiable events) happen. If a notifiable event occurs, there are requirements to:

  • preserve the site (by the PCBU who manages or controls the workplace)
  • notify us
  • keep records.

More information, including a list of notifiable events

Which key duties do not apply to volunteers?

Usually PCBUs must engage their workers in health and safety matters, and provide ways for them to participate (as described in Appendix 5). However, these duties do not apply to volunteer workers.

Even so, we still recommend you regularly talk with all your volunteers and involve them in health and safety discussions.

4.2 What are your general workplace duties?

There are certain facilities, emergency plans, first aid and training you need to provide. Where relevant, you must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide the following:

Workplace and facilities requirements

A workplace is any place where:

  • a worker goes, or is likely to be while at work, or
  • where work is being carried out, or usually carried out.

Workplaces must be clean, healthy, safe, accessible, and well maintained so work can be carried out without risks to worker health and safety.

There requirements for the workplace including for the layout, flooring, lighting, and ventilation.

For volunteer workers

There are also requirements to provide volunteer workers with facilities including toilets, drinking water, and facilities for hand washing, eating and taking breaks.

For more information about these requirements, see our guidance Workplace and facilities requirements

Emergency planning

An emergency plan is a written procedure that tells people what to do in an emergency.

You must prepare an emergency plan for the workplace.

The plan must include:

  • emergency procedures
  • plans for testing these procedures
  • information, training and instruction for workers implementing the emergency procedures.

For more information about these requirements, see our guidance Workplace emergency plans

First aid facilities and equipment, and access to first aiders

You must provide adequate first aid equipment to the workplace.

For volunteer workers

You must make sure volunteer workers have access to first aid equipment and facilities.

You must ensure that you have an adequate number of workers trained as first aiders or that volunteer workers have access to other first aiders.

For more information about these requirements, see our guidance First aid [PDF, 48 KB]

Training, instruction and supervision

There are requirements for training and supervising your volunteers.

For volunteer workers

You must ensure that volunteers workers:

  • have adequate knowledge and experience to carry out the tasks safely or
  • are adequately supervised by someone with that knowledge and experience.

Volunteer workers must receive training in the safe use of the equipment, machinery, or substances they will use.

There are requirements for ensuring the training is suitable and adequate. For more information on these requirements, see our guidance Providing information, training, instruction or supervision for workers

For casual volunteers

You must give casual volunteers the information, training, instruction or supervision they need to protect them from health and safety risks arising from the work.

The duties for personal protective equipment can be found in Section 5.4

4.3 What are your duties to young volunteers?

There are restrictions for what young volunteers (generally under 15-years old) can do.

If you have young volunteers, you must make sure:

  • young volunteer workers do not carry out certain work activities. For example, construction work
  • young people (volunteer workers or casual volunteers) are not present in certain work areas. For example, areas where hazardous substances are being made or used.

However, there are exceptions to these requirements. For more information, see our guidance Young people

4.4 What other duties could you have?

For certain types of work there are requirements specified in health and safety regulations. For example, if your work involves hazardous substances or remote or isolated work.

For more information see Section 5.4

4.5 What should you read next?

Section 5 provides guidance on managing health and safety risks.

5.0 How can you manage risks?

You must manage risks to the health and safety of all volunteers.

If your organisation is new to managing health and safety risks, this section can be used to guide you to:

  • identify hazards (sources of harm) and health and safety risks
  • assess health and safety risks
  • decide what control measures to use
  • record how you are managing the risks.

5.1 What is your duty to manage risk?

Managing risks to health and safety is something that every PCBU must do.

As described earlier, you must first try to eliminate a risk so far as is reasonably practicable. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, it must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

5.2 What approach can you take to managing risk?

The steps below describe a way to manage risk.

For more information about each step, see our quick guide Identifying, assessing, and managing work risks [PDF, 404 KB]

1. Identify what could go wrong

Identify what could harm the health or endanger the safety of your volunteers or others (hazards), and the potential health and safety risks that could result. For more information, see Section 5.3

2. Assess the work risks

For each risk think about:

  • Who might be exposed?
  • What could happen?
    • How severe could the resulting injuries be?
    • How could people’s health be affected?
    • How likely are these consequences?

Decide which risks to deal with first.

For example, risks with potentially significant consequences such as serious injury or death, chronic ill-health, or those with a high likelihood of occurring should be dealt with first.

3. Decide how to manage each risk

Think about at how you are going to manage each risk.

Choose the most effective control measures. For more information, see Section 5.4

4. Put control measures in place

Put the control measures in place.

Instruct and train volunteers about the control measures, including why it is important to use them and how to apply them.

5. Review and improve control measures

With your volunteers, regularly monitor control measures to confirm that the measures are effective. Also review the control measures if the work changes, a new risk is identified, or when you are asked to.

Control measures should remain effective, be fit-for-purpose, be suitable for the nature and duration of the work, and be used correctly.

5.3 How can you identify what could go wrong and assess work risks?

There are a number of ways you can identify hazards (sources of harm) and identify and assess the health and safety risks that could result.

This includes by:

  • following your volunteers through their tasks
  • talk to them about what they do, and hazards and risks they see in each task
  • running focus groups or a small survey asking for input. Anonymous input can sometimes identify hazards and risks that might not have be found otherwise
  • talking to other organisations or volunteering bodies to see what they do. Talk about any incidents that you could learn from.

Use the questions below to prompt your thinking when you are identifying hazards and identifying and assessing risks.

These questions are examples only and not a complete list. You need to consider your own situation.

Could your volunteers be exposed to…

…harm from using equipment or machinery?

Ask:

  • Does any equipment you use have moving parts or blades that could cause injury?
  • Is equipment in poor condition, or installed in a way that it could cause injury?
  • Is equipment set up so that operators need to reach or stretch to use or clean it?
  • Does any equipment create excessive noise, dust, fumes, vibrations, or heat that could result in injury or illness?
…harm from vehicles?

Ask:

  • Do volunteers drive vehicles (yours or their own) as part of their role?
  • Are the vehicles being used safe and road legal?
  • Is the carpark or access way to your work location used by both pedestrians and vehicles at the same time?
…harm when working at height?

Ask:

  • Do volunteers use ladders or stepladders to access items stored at height or to change lightbulbs?
  • Are ladders used for gardening or maintenance tasks? Are they used on sloped or slippery ground?
  • Do you have playgrounds or equipment people could fall off?
…harm from tripping, slipping or falling?

Ask:

  • Are there any sharp objects (for example, broken glass, metal, splinters) on the outside grounds?
  • Are there trip or slip hazards such as open drains, or potholes?
  • Are there any slippery or uneven surfaces?
  • Do steps or paths have uneven or rough edges?
  • Do carpets or flooring surfaces have any loose edges or trip hazards?
  • If there was a spill, how would it be cleaned up? Could it cause a slip before it was cleaned?
  • Are aisles and hallways clear and unobstructed?
  • Is furniture stable to use and free of sharp edges?
  • Are decks, railings and ramps stable and free from damage or holes?
…harm from electric shock?

Ask:

  • Are all external power lines secure and free from obstacles (for example, tree branches)?
  • Are all plugs, sockets, and switches in good working order?
  • Is all electrical equipment in good working order?
  • Could young children or other vulnerable people access power points?
  • Are any portable electric heaters in use? If left on could they cause a fire?
  • Are smoke alarms installed and operating correctly?
…harm from exposure to solvents or hazardous substances?

Ask:

  • Are hazardous substances stored or used on site (for example, cleaning products, pesticides, rodent control)?
  • Could children or other vulnerable people access these substances?
  • Do any of your work processes create harmful fumes?
…harm from lifting or shifting heavy items?

Ask:

  • Are heavy items lifted or shifted manually?
  • Are there any repetitive tasks?
…harm from extreme temperatures or exposure to UV?

Ask:

  • Could volunteers be exposed to the sun or excessive heat?
  • Could volunteers be exposed to excessive wind or cold?
…harm from violence or other traumatic events?

Ask:

  • Could volunteers be exposed to violence or threatening behaviour?
  • Do any of your volunteers work alone?
  • Could someone break-in or access the work area and challenge one of your volunteers?
  • Could your volunteers be exposed to traumatic events?
…harm from stressful work?

Ask:

  • Could volunteers feel stressed due to work responsibilities, workloads, or deadlines?
  • Could volunteers feel stressed due to work conflicts or a lack of support?
…harm from bullying or harassment?

Ask:

  • Are volunteers exposed to work-related harassment or bullying?
  • Are volunteers exposed to sexual or racial harassment?

5.4 What control measures should you use to address risks?

Please note

There are certain risks that must be dealt with in a certain way. These are specified in health and safety regulations. For example, if your work involves hazardous substances, or remote or isolated work.

For more information, see our quick guide Identifying, assessing, and managing work risks [PDF, 404 KB]

You must first try to eliminate the risk so far as is reasonably practicable. This can be done by removing the source of harm – for example, removing faulty equipment or a trip hazard.

If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, it must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

Use the following hierarchy of control measures (Figure 3) to help work out the most effective control measures to use to manage your risks.

Hierarchy of control measures

[image] Hierarchy of control measures diagram
Figure 3: Hierarchy of control measures

The image describes control measures starting with the most effective down to the least effective. The first and most effective control measure is elimination. The rest of the control measures are about minimising the risk.

First try elimination

Eliminate risks

Remove sources of harm.

Examples: remove faulty equipment, noisy machines, trip hazards. 

If elimination is not reasonably practicable

Substitute

Swap with something that has a lower risk.

Example: use non-caustic cleaning products.

Isolate

Separate people from the source of harm.

Example: use safety barriers.

Apply engineering control measures

Change physical components of the plant, structure or work area (for example, machinery, tools, equipment, workplace design) to reduce or eliminate exposure to hazards.

Examples: replace a petrol-powered lawn mower with a non-corded electrical one.

If there is still risk

Apply administrative control measures.

Use safe methods of work, procedures or processes.

Examples: put emergency plans in place; allow only trained volunteers to undertake certain tasks.

If risk still remains – PPE is the last line of defence

Use personal protective equipment (PPE)

Use or wear items (including clothing) to minimise risks to personal health and safety.

Examples: use or wear safety glasses, protective clothing, hearing protection, hi-vis vests, sun protection.

End of text alternative for Figure 3.

 

You may need to use multiple control measures to deal with a risk.

Choose control measures that protect many people at the same time (for example, safety barriers, safety nets) if you can.

Requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE)

There are requirements to meet if you intend to use PPE to manage risks.

You must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide the following:

For volunteer workers

You must provide volunteer workers any PPE required.

There are exceptions when another PCBU provides the PPE instead or when the volunteer worker genuinely and voluntarily chooses to provide their own PPE.

There are also requirements around selecting and maintaining PPE, making sure volunteer workers wear/use PPE, and providing information, training and instruction.

For casual volunteers

You must ensure the PPE worn or used by casual volunteers:

  • is capable of minimising health and safety risks
  • is worn or used by them.

For more information about the PPE requirements, see our guidance Personal protective equipment – a guide for businesses

Volunteer workers and casual volunteers also have their own PPE duties. See Section 7.3 for more information.

Where can you get help?

Use our guidance or guidance from others (for example, industry associations) to understand legal requirements or for help to manage risks.

For example, we have guidance on:

If you need help with identifying risks and control measures, you can get advice from a suitably qualified and experienced health and safety professional.

HASANZ has a register of verified health and safety professionals(external link)

5.5 Should you record how you are managing your risks?

You should keep written records of how you are managing your risks.

Written records mean you can more easily review how you are dealing with risks if something changes. You can also use these records to train your volunteers about work risks and the control measures put in place to manage them.

Records can be simple for less risky work. You could note the main points about the risks you identified and what you decided to do. More risky work will require more complex records.

5.6 What are examples of managing risks?

The following fictional examples show how to manage risks using the approach in section 5.2

Example 1: The Charity Shoppe Inc

The Charity Shoppe Inc collects unwanted household goods. They clean, sort, and sell the items from a small shop. Profits are donated to the local hospice.

The Charity Shoppe has volunteer workers who:

  • collect donated goods in a Charity Shoppe Inc van
  • sort, clean, and display the goods in the shop
  • manage customer service: the sale, payment, and collection of goods.

The Charity Shoppe Inc has two employees:

  • Sally, a part-time office administrator who helps with the accounts and administration.
  • Margaret, who oversees the Charity Shoppe and the volunteers’ activities.

Margaret, in conjunction with Sally and the volunteer workers, decides to make a table of:

  • their work hazards
  • the potential harms that could occur, and
  • the likelihood of them occurring (the potential work risks).

Margaret lists the control measures and monitoring that will be put in place.

Margaret fills out the table below, and keeps it attached to the wall by her desk. She reviews and updates it regularly.

Charity Shoppe Inc risk management plan [PDF, 37 KB]

Example 2: Football club working bee

A local football club is run by volunteers who provide their time to coach and referee children’s football.

The football club employs a part-time grounds maintenance worker called Ben and is therefore a PCBU. It has HSWA duties to their employee Ben, their volunteers, and others who visit their club and grounds.

The football club decides to run a working bee to clear an area for a new equipment storage shed. Tony, a member of the football club, agrees to organise the event and oversee the activities on behalf of the football club. The families of the children in the club are asked to come and help at the working bee.

To make the working bee a safe and healthy one, Tony steps through the risk management approach described in Section 5

Preparing for the working bee

Step 1

Tony identifies what could go wrong. He spends some time looking around the site and working out what activities need to be done on the day.

Tony thinks through: What equipment will be used? Does it have sharp blades? Will anyone need to do heavy lifting or physically demanding tasks? Will there be ladders or anyone working at height? What is the weather going to be like? Will there be a risk of sunburn or heat stroke?

Step 2

Tony assesses each risk by thinking about who could be exposed and what could happen.

Tony creates a list of the risks from Step 1 that he thinks are most likely to occur or could potentially have most significant consequences. He fills in the first columns in his risk management plan.

Step 3

Tony goes through each risk identified and works out what can be done to minimise the risk. He fills in the table with his control measures. He works out what he needs to do before the working bee to put his control measures in place.

Tony also checks that the first aid kit in the club room is up-to-date and accessible. He has asked one of the volunteers who is trained in first aid to stay for the whole working bee, and to be available to help if needed. He has the details of the nearest medical clinic handy in case anyone does need medical assistance.

On the day of the working bee

Step 4

Tony puts his control measures in place. He briefs the volunteers on the hazards that he has identified, and how to minimise the risks. He makes sure the volunteers know how to raise any health and safety concerns with him.

Step 5

Tony regularly checks on the volunteers and runs through his monitoring actions in his risk management plan. He checks that the volunteers are healthy and safe and that his control measures are working the way he intended. If he sees anything that is not working, Tony adjusts his control measures and reminds the volunteers of the hazard and how to minimise the risk.

Football club risk management plan [PDF, 34 KB]

Example 3: An organisation has a national office and many regional offices. It was determined that the organisation was only one PCBU (the regional offices were not PCBUs in their own right)

The steps the organisation took to make sure that health and safety is managed well throughout all their offices included:

  • providing the regional groups with health and safety procedures
  • providing information about risks and tools such as risk assessment templates
  • training volunteers to work safely
  • sending health and safety updates
  • sharing information about health and safety incidents
  • ensuring all regional offices have emergency procedures in place
  • having a designated health and safety contact person at the national office.

5.7 What should you read next?

Section 6 explains your officers’ health and safety duty.

6.0 What is your officers’ health and safety duty?

Officers have a role in ensuring organisations meet their health and safety duties.

This section explains who officers are, and what their health and safety duty is.

6.1 Who is an officer?

An officer of an organisation could be a board member or someone who has a significant influence over how it runs.

An officer is classed as a ‘volunteer officer’ if they hold this position on a voluntary basis.

6.2 What must an officer do?

Officers, including volunteer officers, must exercise due diligence that includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the organisation meets its health and safety duties.

This includes:

  • keeping their health and safety knowledge up-to-date
  • understanding the organisation’s operations and the risks associated with those operations
  • making sure and verifying that the organisation has appropriate resources and processes to meet its duties.

While volunteer officers have the same due diligence duty as other officers, they do not commit an offence if they fail to meet it.

For further information, see our fact sheet Information for volunteer officers

6.3 What should you read next?

Section 7 explains your volunteers’ health and safety duties.

7.0 What are your volunteers’ health and safety duties?

Volunteers must take reasonable care of their own health and safety.

Volunteer workers and casual volunteers have different work health and safety duties. This section explains these duties.

7.1 What are duties of volunteer workers?

As workers, volunteers workers must:

  • take reasonable care of their own health and safety
  • take reasonable care that what they do or do not do, does not adversely affect the health and safety of others
  • cooperate with any reasonable policies or procedures that you have in place on how to work in a healthy and safe way
  • comply with any reasonable instruction that you give so that you can comply with HSWA requirements.

For more information on workers’ rights and responsibilities, see Your rights and obligations

7.2 What are the duties of casual volunteers?

As ‘other persons’ at a workplace, casual volunteers must:

  • take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and not adversely affect the health and safety of anyone else
  • comply, as far as they are able, with reasonable instructions relating to work health and safety.

7.3 Are there other work health and safety duties?

Depending on the nature of the work, there may be other requirements for volunteer workers and casual volunteers to comply with. These requirements may differ.

An example when wearing/using personal protective equipment (PPE)

Casual volunteers must use or wear the PPE in line with the information, training or reasonable instruction given by you.

This compares to volunteer workers who:

  • must use or wear the PPE in line with the information, training or reasonable instruction given by you
  • must not intentionally misuse or damage the PPE
  • must tell you if the PPE is damaged or defective, or when it needs to be cleaned or decontaminated.

For more information about PPE requirements, see our guidance Personal protective equipment – a guide for businesses

8.0 Summary of duty holders and their duties

PCBU

Who is a PCBU?

A PCBU is a person conducting a business or undertaking. A PCBU can be an individual or an organisation.

An organisation with volunteers is not a PCBU if:

  • it is a group of volunteers with a community purpose and
  • no one is employed to work for the group (see Figure 1).
What must a PCBU do?

A PCBU has many duties.

For example, a PCBU must:

  • ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other persons are not put at risk by its work
  • manage work health and safety risks
  • so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate, and coordinate activities with other PCBUs they share duties with
  • provide certain facilities, equipment and training
  • notify WorkSafe when certain events occur.

Volunteer worker

Who is a volunteer worker?

A volunteer worker is a volunteer whose work:

  • is with your agreement or knowledge
  • is on an ongoing and regular basis
  • is an integral part of your organisation, and
  • does not only involve helping with fundraising or sports or recreation, helping with activities for an educational institute outside its premises or caring for another person in the volunteer’s home (for example, foster care) (see Figure 2).
What must a volunteer worker do?

A volunteer worker must:

  • take reasonable care of their own health and safety
  • take reasonable care that what they do or do not do, does not adversely affect the health and safety of other
  • cooperate with any reasonable policies or procedures that you have in place on how to work in a healthy and safe way
  • comply with any reasonable instruction that you give so that you can comply with HSWA and the regulations.

Officer

Who is an officer?

An officer of an organisation could be a board member or someone who has a significant influence over how it runs.

What must an officer do?

An officer must exercise due diligence that includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the organisation meets its health and safety duties.

Casual volunteer

Who is a casual volunteer?

Casual volunteers are volunteers that do not meet the definition of ‘volunteer workers’ (see Figure 2).

What must a casual volunteer do?

A casual volunteer must:

  • take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and not adversely affect the health and safety of anyone else
  • comply, as far as they are reasonably able, with reasonable instructions relating to health and safety at the workplace.

For further information, see Appendix 2

Appendices

Appendix 1: Glossary

For this guidance the following terms and definitions are used:

Community purpose

A community purpose includes the promotion of art, culture, science, religion, education, medicine, or to support a charity, sport or recreation activity.

Control measure

A control measure is a way of eliminating or minimising risks to health and safety.

Employee (Employ)

An employee is a person employed to do any work for hire or reward under a contract of service (commonly called an employment agreement). The hire or reward is almost always a wage or salary.

Hazard

A hazard is a source of harm. It could include an object, situation or behaviour.

HSWA

HSWA means the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

This is the key work health and safety legislation in New Zealand. HSWA applies to all work and workplaces unless specifically excluded.

You can find the full text of the Act on the New Zealand Legislation website.

PCBU

A PCBU is a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’.

An organisation is a PCBU if it meets certain criteria. See Figure 1 for further detail on how to tell if you are a PCBU with work health and safety duties.

Also see Appendix 2

PPE

PPE means personal protective equipment.

PPE includes anything worn by someone (including clothing) to minimise risks to their health and safety.

It includes respiratory protective equipment, hearing protection, eye protection, protective clothing, and safety harness systems.

Primary duty of care

A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that other persons are not put at risk by its work. This is called the ‘primary duty of care’.

Risk

Risks arise from people being exposed to a hazard (a source of harm).

Volunteer

A volunteer is someone not paid for the voluntary work they do. Volunteers can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses (for example, for your petrol expenses if the volunteer work requires they drive).

They can be either a casual volunteer, or a volunteer worker. Refer to Figure 2 for further detail.

Appendix 2: Health and Safety at Work Act duties

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015(external link) (HSWA) is New Zealand’s key work health and safety law.

All work and workplaces are covered by HSWA unless they have been specifically excluded. For example, HSWA does not apply to the armed forces in certain situations.

HSWA sets out the work health and safety duties that duty holders must comply with.

There are four types of duty holder under HSWA:

  • a person conducting a business or understanding (PCBU)
  • an officer
  • a worker
  • an ‘other person’ at the workplace.

Most duties under HSWA relate to how work is carried out. However some duties are linked to where work is carried out: the workplace.

A workplace is a place where work is being carried out or usually carried out for a business or undertaking. It includes any place where a worker goes or is likely to be while at work section 20 of HSWA(external link)

DUTY HOLDER: Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU)

Who they are?

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) may be an individual person or an organisation.

The following are not PCBUs:

  • officers
  • workers
  • other persons at a workplace
  • volunteer associations that do not have employees
  • home occupiers (such as home owners or tenants) who pay someone to do work around the home section 17 of HSWA(external link)
Examples
  • a business
  • a self-employed person
  • partners in a partnership
  • a government agency
  • a local council
  • a school or university.
What are their duties?

A PCBU has many duties. Key duties are summarised below.

Primary duty of caresection 36 of HSWA(external link)

A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that other persons are not put at risk by its work.

For more information see:

Managing riskssection 30 of HSWA(external link)

Risks to health and safety arise from people being exposed to hazards (anything that can cause harm). A PCBU must manage work health and safety risks.

  • A PCBU must first try to eliminate a risk so far as is reasonably practicable. This can be done by removing the source of harm
    • for example, removing faulty equipment or a trip hazard.
  • If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, it must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

For more information see:

Overlapping duties: working with other PCBUssection 34 of HSWA(external link)

A PCBU with overlapping duties must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with other PCBUs they share duties with.

For more information see Appendix 4 of this guidance.

Involving workers: worker engagement, participation and representation – Part 3 of HSWA(external link)

A PCBU must, so far as is reasonably practicable, engage with their workers (or their workers’ representatives) about health and safety matters that will directly affect the workers.

A PCBU must have worker participation practices that give their workers reasonable opportunities to participate in improving health and safety on an ongoing basis.

For more information see Appendix 5 of this guidance.

DUTY HOLDER: Upstream PCBU

Who they are?

A PCBU in the supply chain.

Examples
  • a designer
  • a manufacturer
  • a supplier
  • an importer
  • an installer, constructor, or commissioner.
What are their duties?

Upstream PCBUsections 39–43 of HSWA(external link)

An upstream PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the work they do or the things they provide to other workplaces do not create health and safety risks.

For more information see Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

DUTY HOLDER: Officer

Who they are?

A specified person or a person who exercises significant influence over the management of the business or undertaking section 18 of HSWA(external link)

Examples
  • a company director
  • a partner or general partner
  • a chief executive.
What are their duties?

Officersection 44 of HSWA(external link)

An officer must exercise due diligence that includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the PCBU meets their health and safety duties.

For more information see Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

DUTY HOLDER: Worker

Who they are?

An individual who carries out work for a PCBU section 19 of HSWA(external link)

Examples
  • an employee
  • a contractor or sub-contractor
  • an employee of a contractor or sub-contractor
  • an employee of a labour hire company
  • an outworker (including homeworker)
  • an apprentice or trainee
  • a person gaining work experience or on work trials
  • a volunteer worker.
What are their duties?

Workersection 45 of HSWA(external link)

A worker must take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and take reasonable care that they do not harm others at work.

A worker must cooperate with reasonable policies and procedures the PCBU has in place that the worker has been told about.

A worker must comply, as far as they are reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction given by the PCBU so the PCBU can meet their legal duties.

For more information see Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

DUTY HOLDER: Other person at the workplace

Who they are?

An individual present at a workplace (not a worker).

Examples
  • a workplace visitor
  • a casual volunteer (not a volunteer worker)
  • a customer.
What are their duties?

Other person at the workplacesection 46 of HSWA(external link)

An ‘other person’ has a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and not adversely affect the health and safety of anyone else.

They must comply with reasonable instructions relating to health and safety at the workplace.

For more information see:

Appendix 3: So far as is reasonably practicable

section 22 of HSWA(external link)

Certain PCBU duties (the section 36–43(external link) duties including the primary duty of care) must be carried out ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.

What to consider when deciding what is ‘reasonably practicable’

Just because something is possible to do, does not mean it is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

Consider:

  • What possible actions can be taken to ensure health and safety?
  • Of these possible actions, at a particular time, what is reasonable to do?

Think about the following questions.

What is known about the risk?
  • How likely is the risk to occur?
  • How severe is the illness or injury that might occur if something goes wrong?
  • What is known, or should reasonably be known, about the risk?
What is known about possible control measures?
  • What is known, or should reasonably be known, about the ways (control measures) to eliminate or minimise the risk?
  • What control measures are available?
  • How appropriate (suitable) are the control measures to manage the risk?
  • What are the costs of these control measures?
  • Are the costs grossly disproportionate to the risk? Cost must only be used as a reason to not do something when that cost is grossly out of proportion to the risk.

While PCBUs should check if there are widely used control measures for that risk (such as industry standards), they should always keep their specific circumstances in mind. A common industry practice might not be the most effective or appropriate control measure to use.

If PCBUs are not sure what control measures are appropriate, WorkSafe recommends getting advice from a suitably qualified and experienced health and safety professional.

For more information, see our guidance: Reasonably practicable [PDF, 44 KB]

Appendix 4: Working with other PCBUs – overlapping duties

section 34 of HSWA(external link)

More than one PCBU can have a duty in relation to the same matter. These PCBUs have overlapping duties – this means that the duties are shared between them.

[Image] illustration of two overlapping PCBU circles with overlapping duties in the center

Duties regularly overlap:

  • in a shared workplace (for example, a building site or a port) where more than one business has control and influence over the work on site.
  • in a contracting chain, where contractors and subcontractors provide services to a head contractor or client and do not necessarily share the same workplace.

A PCBU must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all other PCBUs they share duties with so that all PCBUs can meet their joint responsibilities.

A PCBU cannot transfer or contract out of their duties, or pass liability to another person.

However a PCBU can make an agreement with another PCBU to fulfil specific duties. Even if this occurs, all PCBUs are still responsible for meeting their legal duties.

Example

A local hotel contracts out housekeeping services to an agency. The hotel and agency both have a duty to ensure the health and safety of the housekeeping workers, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes the duty to provide first aid facilities.

The agency reaches an agreement with the hotel – if their workers need first aid while working at the hotel they can use the hotel’s first aid facilities.

For more information, see our guidance: Overlapping duties [PDF, 173 KB]

Appendix 5: Worker engagement, participation and representation

Part 3 of HSWA(external link)

Note: You do not need to comply with the worker engagement, participation and representation requirements for volunteer workers. However, we recommend you regularly talk with all your volunteers and involve them in health and safety discussions.

Engage with workers and enable their participation

A PCBU has two main duties related to worker engagement and participation:

  • to engage with workers on health and safety matters that affect or are likely to affect workers, so far as is reasonably practicable, and
  • to have practices that give workers reasonable opportunities to participate effectively in the ongoing improvement of work health and safety.
[image] Worker engagement and participation diagram

A PCBU can engage with workers by:

  • sharing information about health and safety matters so that workers are well-informed, know what is going on and can contribute to decision-making
  • giving workers reasonable opportunities to have a say about health and safety matters
  • listening to and considering what workers have to say at each step of the risk management process
  • considering workers’ views when health and safety decisions are being made
  • updating workers about what decisions have been made.

A PCBU must engage with workers during specified times, including when identifying hazards and assessing risks.

A PCBU must have clear, effective, and ongoing ways for workers to suggest improvements or raise concerns.

Worker representation

Workers can be represented by a Health and Safety Representative (HSR), a union representing workers, or a person that workers authorise to represent them (for example, a community or church leader, or another trusted member of the community).

HSRs and Health and Safety Committees (HSCs) are two well-established methods of participation and representation. If workers are represented by an HSR, worker engagement must also involve that representative.

For more information

WorkSafe guidance

Good practice guidelines

Worker engagement, participation and representation

Interpretive guidelines

Worker representation through Health and Safety Representatives and Health and Safety Committees

Pamphlets

Worker representation [PDF, 892 KB]

Health and Safety Committees [PDF, 778 KB]

Health and Safety Representatives [PDF, 1.2 MB]

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