Worker Engagement and Participation

We are back talking about the new safety law coming into effect on the 4th April 2016. Over the next couple of weeks we will be talking about Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation. Have no idea what that means? Well don't worry, we will be clearing it up and sharing what you have to do about it in your business.

This week is all about worker engagement, what it is and what you have do about it. Over to Zane and Adelaide.

What's a Worker?

First thing first, what or who is a worker?
A couple of weeks ago we defined a Worker as this: Someone who does the work in a business like an: employee; sub-contractor; apprentice; trainee; work-experience; team member; anyone else who does work in a business or organisation or undertaking.
The law puts it like this. A Worker is somebody who does work for a PCBU (Person conducting a business or undertaking.)

Duty to Engage with Workers

As a business owner, boss, manager or team leader we all have a duty to engage with our workers on Health and Safety matters. Why? So everyone knows what's going on and stays safe. But don't worry, this isn't some complicated process with lots of paperwork and time wasting exercises.

Nature of Engagement

Let's call this: What is it we have to do to engage our workers with Health and Safety stuff?
There are a few things the law specifies that we need to do, they are:

  • Share relevant safety information with workers. Like what risks are in the workplace, what safety plans you have and how to follow them, and what to do when something goes wrong, etc.
  • That information has to be shared in a timely manner. So when someone goes to do work, they need to know about the safety stuff before they do it and not after.
  • Workers must be given opportunities to express and share their views. Like "I think this is a pretty big risk," or "this safety plan doesn't work," etc.
  • Their views need to be taken into account. As a boss you need to actually listen to their views and make decisions with them in mind to keep them safe.
  • Workers need to be able to contribute to the decision making process. So don't decide on safety things by yourself, get your team involved and make decisions together that will keep everyone safe.
  • Let them know about any decisions made. Once a decision is made, make sure everyone knows what it was and what they have to do about it, so everyone is on the same page.

When engagement is required

The law lists off a whole lot of things but if you keep this rule in mind you will be all good: Any decision around safety or safety related thing that you need to make or do, get your workers involved, engage them so they know whats going on.
E.g. Decisions around risks or hazards, safety gear, safety plans, ways for people to participate in safety stuff, or anything else to do with safety.

Fines for not engaging workers

So just to show how serious or important Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation is in the new law, here is what you could get fined if you don't engage your workers.

  • Up to $20,000 for an individual,
  • Or up to $100,000 for any other person.

Basically, get your Workers engaged and participating and you won't have the risk of getting fined.


So get your team together, have a chat and make sure everyone knows about the risks they face, do they know about (and follow) all the safety plans, let them have their say on safety issues and, listen to and take on board any suggestions that they may have.

That's it for this week, see you again next week for part two of Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation.
Let us know what you think in the comments below or send us an email to questions@peoplesafe.co.nz


If you have the time an want to read the new law, you can find it here:
Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 - Worker Engagement, Participation & Representation