Health and safety reform

The Health and Safety at Work Act came into law on April 4, 2016 and with changes which will affect clubs. 

Now is the time to become familiar with the changes and ensure your club is up to scratch in the health and safety department.


In 2013, government announced its Working Safer reform package, aimed at bringing down New Zealand’s workplace injury and death toll by 25 percent by 2020. Perhaps the most important part of this is the new Health and Safety Reform Bill, which will make every workplace responsible for the health and safety of all workers (including contractors). 

Where we are now

The act is now law.

Clubs with strong health and safety practices will not need to make significant changes, however all clubs should take this opportunity to review and improve their training, policies and practices.

The aim is to change New Zealand's health and safety culture, and for leaders to drive that change. It is about keeping people safe and a shift in thinking from 'do I have a duty to this person?' to 'what can I reasonably do to keep them safe?'

The act has introduced PCBU's - Person Conducting or a Business Undertaking. Clubs will either fall in to the category of a PCBU or a Volunteer Organisation.

PBCU's have a primary duty of care, and it's Officers have due diligence duty to ensure the PBCU complies with it's duty. Officers are people who are able to exercise significant influence over the organisation, which can include Commodores, committee members and key staff. 

PCBU's and it's paid officers are liable under the new Act. Volunteer Officers (i.e. unpaid Commodores and committee members) have duty but are not liable.

Health and safety needs to be a regular agenda item, actively and visibly managed by clubs.

All clubs should be reviewing their processes and documentation including , policies, Risk Assessment and Management System (RAMS), Safe Operating Procedures (SOP), training requirements and implementation, reporting methods and monitoring periods. 

Is your club a PCBU or a Volunteer Organisation?

The Health and Safety Reform Bill introduces PCBUs; a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking.

It is important to understand if your club falls under the category of a PCBU or a volunteer organisation. This will help you understand your duties under the new Act.

The following link helps you identify which category your club comes under:


However, a simple test is that if your club has people working in paid employment then it is classified as a PCBU. 

The following link contains a lot of useful information regarding updates on the bill, duty of care, due diligence, liabilities and enforcement for PCBUs.


If your club is classes as a Volunteer Organisation then the Health and Safety at Work Act does not apply.

It is Yachting New Zealand's advice that whether you are a PCBU or a Volunteer Organisation that you adopt strong health and safety management practices that would meet the requirements of the new Act. Even clubs that are Volunteer Organisations where the Act doesn't apply, these clubs should be providing a safe well managed environment for all involved in the club's activities. 

What should you be doing?

Review current practices and documentation

  • Engage with your ‘experts’ - those people at the club that have sound knowledge and experience of how the club runs

Implement updated practices

  • Engage with workers and volunteers
  • Carry out and document training

Monitor health and safety

  • Make health and safety a regular agenda item at committee meetings
  • Act where needed i.e. when new hazards are identified, or accidents or significant near misses occurs where changes to the management of that activity should be improved

Set a date for further review (at least annually)

Where to go for information

Yachting New Zealand Presentation regarding the new Act.

The Work Safe New Zealand website has a useful section of FAQ's and Mythbusters regarding the new Act. It contains guidance, information and definitions to help understand the new Act.

Work Safe Video on the new Health and Safety at Work Act (very effective summary of the practical application of the new HSWA).

Buddle Findlay presentation which provides more guidance to sports around the responsibilities of organisations (August 2015).

There will be a workshop on the new Act and club health and safety management at the Yachting New Zealand Commodores Conference, June 25th at the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club in Auckland. For more information on your club attending, please contact Yachting New Zealand at mail@yachtingnz.org.nz.

Yachting New Zealand Resources

Yachting New Zealand have developed resources to help your club, these can be found in Section 6 of the Club Manual here. There you can find the following resources:

  • Club Risk Management Self Check
  • Club Risk Management Guide
  • Template Risk Management Plan
  • Hazard Analysis System
  • Risk Management Planning Process Example
  • Manning and Equipment Levels for Club Rescue Boats
  • Rescue Boat Safety System