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What is a Workplace? The Reality of Work Vehicles and Carparks

When it comes to workplace safety, New Zealand's legal landscape is throwing more robust as time goes by, encompassing not only traditional office spaces but also extending to work vehicles and site carparks. Understanding these legal obligations is crucial for businesses and organizations to ensure the health and safety of their workers and the public.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), businesses bear broad duties to safeguard individuals at work. This includes workers engaged in driving for work purposes, such as employees, contractors, volunteers, and even bystanders exposed to hazards generated by the business. To comply with the HSWA, businesses must identify and manage risks associated with work-related driving, which includes providing safe vehicles, adequate training, and considering contextual factors affecting road safety.

Moreover, the HSWA establishes a chain of responsibility, both vertically and horizontally. This means that those procuring transport services must ensure their safety, while importers and suppliers must ensure that vehicles are without risks to health and safety. WorkSafe, along with designated agencies, oversees compliance with the HSWA, warranting NZ Police officers to enforce health and safety requirements.

In parallel, the Land Transport Act 1998 (LTA) imposes additional requirements on certain commercial vehicle services to enhance road safety and consumer protection. These services include goods transport, passenger transport, vehicle recovery, and rental services. Compliance with LTA regulations is essential for ensuring the safety of both drivers and passengers.

Despite these legal frameworks, businesses face various challenges in managing workplace driving effectively. These challenges include commercial pressures, driver fatigue, inadequate supervision, and a lack of understanding of driving as a health and safety risk. To address these issues, stakeholders have identified priority areas for a new strategy, including:

  1. Emphasizing Road Safety: Businesses must recognize road safety as a critical health and safety risk, going beyond minimum legal requirements to ensure comprehensive safety measures.

  2. Government Leadership: Central and local governments can lead by example, promoting best practices in work-related road safety, particularly in procurement processes.

  3. Chain of Responsibility: Utilizing chain of responsibility obligations to drive safety improvements among transport service providers and suppliers.

  4. Addressing Fatigue and Distraction: Prioritizing issues such as driver fatigue, distraction, and vehicle safety to enhance road safety outcomes.

  5. Enhancing Training and Skills: Improving training standards and knowledge of those driving for work to enhance competency and safety.

  6. Raising Standards for Commercial Transport: Advocating for higher safety standards across the board for commercial transport services.

  7. Promoting Technology Adoption: Encouraging the uptake of technology, such as telematics and fatigue monitoring, to improve road safety outcomes.

In addition to workplace driving, employers must also consider the safety of workplace carparks. The person managing or controlling a workplace, including the carparks associated with it, has a duty to ensure a safe environment (Check out this NZ Herald article: This encompasses providing safe access, maintaining structural integrity, and addressing hazards promptly. Employers must also consult with employees and health and safety representatives, ensure safe systems of work, and comply with relevant HSWA duties related to carpark operations.

Navigating the legal obligations surrounding work vehicles and carparks in New Zealand requires a comprehensive understanding of both the HSWA and LTA requirements. By prioritizing road safety, adopting best practices, and leveraging technology, businesses can create safer work environments for their employees and the wider community. Compliance with these regulations not only fulfills legal obligations but also fosters a culture of safety and responsibility in the workplace.

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