Understanding health and safety

Te mārama ki te hauora me te haumaru

Every school must have a strong focus on health and safety. It’s a core part of your legal obligations as a board.

Your school needs to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.  We're here to guide you through your obligations.

For more information and resources, see the Professional Development and Other Content sections below.

Your responsibilities as a board 

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015  sets out the board’s legal responsibilities. For example, it says the board, as a legal entity, has an obligation to do what is reasonably practicable to keep workers and others safe. This is your primary duty of care. Note that workers are defined as (but not limited to) employees, volunteer workers, contractors, student teachers, and trainees.

What a model health and safety system looks like 

There are 10 components of an effective health and safety system.

  1. Leadership
  2. Worker participation
  3. Specific practice guidelines, rules and regulations
  4. Risk identification, assessment and management
  5. Workplace management
  6. Equipment
  7. Injury and illness management
  8. Injury and illness support and rehabilitation
  9. Health and wellbeing programmes
  10. Monitoring, reporting and assurance

These can be used to review your own health and safety systems and ensure you are meeting the requirements of the Act. 

It outlines everyone’s key roles and responsibilities. For example, it says the school’s leadership should set the direction of health and safety management in the workplace, while any health and wellbeing programmes that are put in place should ensure that everyone can proactively manage their own health and wellbeing. 


Why health and safety is a crucial part of your governance role

A robust governance structure will help you fulfil your legal obligations as a board. A good structure means showing strategic leadership and direction for health and safety through the charter process. It means having a policy framework and set of policies in place to give you direction and to guide all school activities. It also means having an ongoing auditing and review programme in place that looks at all aspects of your school’s health and safety performance.


What is a PCBU is and why is this role is essential 

A PCBU is a crucial role defined by the law, and it is a 'person conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU). In the case of a school or Kura, the board is the PCBU. As the PCBU, it’s your role to ensure the health and safety of everybody at your school so far as is reasonably practicable.


Where you should focus your efforts 

As a board, the law says you should focus your efforts on what matters, based on risk, control, and size. That means understanding your level of risk in certain areas, actively managing critical risks, focusing your attention on how work is carried out and ensuring everyone is engaged and participating in your school’s health and safety policies and procedures.

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© 2018 New Zealand School Trustees Association