Understanding your liability under the new OSH legislation

Under the HSWA, health and safety is everyone's responsibility in a business, but the act also recognises that officers have more influence and control. This means that senior business leaders such as Directors, Board Members, and CEOs - among others - are responsible for ensuring that the business meets its health and safety responsibilities. 

Those in very senior leadership positions are accountable for ensuring that the business understands and manages key risks. This is called the duty of due diligence.

What is due diligence under the HSWA 2015?

It isn’t necessary for officers to be directly involved in daily management of health and safety, but they must “take reasonable steps to ensure the business is complying with its health and safety responsibilities”. This includes ensuring that they:

  • Have relevant, up-to-date knowledge of workplace health and safety
  • Understand the nature of the business and its operations and associated health and safety risks generally
  • Ensure the business has appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risk
  • Ensure the business has processes for receiving, considering and responding to information about incidents, hazards, and risks. 

Even in a large company, officers cannot simply rely on the fact that they have a health and safety management system in the business. They need to understand how their OSH system works, and take action to ensure it is working.

Officers in smaller businesses may be talking directly to their staff, supervising health and safety practices, and investigating any OSH incidents.

Here is a useful table showing what due diligence looks like.

How can you make sure you are protected?

Talk to the Health & Safety specialists at Safety First. We can ensure that you understand how to take the right actions, and can demonstrate that you are working to meet your obligations under the Health and Safety Workplace Act 2015.