We’re supporting the government’s response to the pandemic in two ways.
As New Zealand’s primary work health and safety regulator we’re responsible for helping make sure businesses and services meet their Work Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) requirements. During the pandemic this includes how businesses and services manage the risks of their workers being exposed to COVID-19.
Our inspectors also have responsibilities under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 (the COVID Act). For example, our inspectors help ensure businesses and services meet the requirements such as prominent display of QR codes and physical distancing.
We need to prioritise our resources so we’re able to provide support on managing COVID-19 risks in addition to meeting all our other responsibilities. We prioritise our efforts for workers in roles where there’s a credible risk of infection and that risk arises from the nature of the work.
Right now the workers at greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 are those at New Zealand’s borders. Because of this, we focus on workers at:
- Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities (MIQs)
- airports, ports and other border services
- healthcare services that may involve exposure to COVID-19.
The government’s vaccination programme is likely to change this, so we’ll revisit our priorities once we know the impact of vaccination for these workers.
As part of our role when we assess and work with MIQs, we ask about the effect of the work on the workers’ mental health. We also ensure businesses and services are aware of our expectations about mentally healthy work.
When COVID-19 is present in the community, and COVID Alert Levels rise, we also prioritise our responsibilities for making sure businesses and services are meeting their COVID Act requirements. This includes responding to complaints that QR codes aren’t being displayed by businesses or processes aren’t in place for physical distancing.
Our inspectors’ responsibilities under the COVID Act are limited to work and workplaces that we regulate under HSWA. This means we can’t enforce COVID Act and Order requirements on board ships or planes. And our inspectors don’t have authorisation to enforce COVID Act requirements that apply to individuals, such as wearing face coverings on public transport.