Occupational health and safety reforms in New Zealand: Tripartite views on the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
The aim of this small-scale qualitative study was to explore the views of representatives from the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), WorkSafe New Zealand, and the trade unions regarding the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Act and its impact on New Zealand workplaces. Due to the exploratory nature of this research, a qualitative methodology was adopted as it is most appropriate where the events being evaluated have no clear, single set of outcomes (Yin, 2003). Data collected from six semi-structured interviews were supplemented by additional material, such as relevant submissions from government select committees, in order to provide validity and enable a deeper understanding of the topic (Meyer, 2001). The findings show that while all interview participants were well aware and supportive of the health and safety reforms, there was confusion about the new terminology introduced by the Act and frustration regarding the absence of detailed supporting guidelines to achieve compliance. The key finding of this study is that despite the requirements for workers’ participation pursuant under HSWA, that the interviewees believed that the levels of work participation had not risen and some cases, were actually lower than under the old Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.