Duty Holder Review - frequently asked questions

Who is a Duty Holder?

A Duty Holder is a person upon whom a duty is imposed by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA Act) and Hazardous Substances and New Organism Act 1996 (HSNO Act). Duty Holders under these Acts can be employers, principals, persons who control places of work, self-employed, employees, persons in charge, or persons selling or supplying plant for use on a place of work. 

What is a Duty Holder Review?

A Duty Holder Review is a review of an incident by a Duty Holder when an accident has occurred in the workplace. A Duty Holder Review is a type of regulatory response that WorkSafe New Zealand may decide on when reviewing an incident that has been notified. 

What value is there in participating in the duty-holder review process?

A Duty Holder Review is designed to assist the Duty Holder to analyse and understand why an accident occurred and what the failures were in the health and safety systems that allowed the accident to occur. This is often called identify the root and underlying causes of an accident. The review will also identify where health and safety systems can be improved to prevent a similar occurrence. 

What is the value to WorkSafe of me participating?

The completion of the self-review provides WorkSafe with some assurance that the Duty Holder has taken the occurrence of the accident seriously and has taken the opportunity to learn from it and make improvements. The more often organisations in New Zealand improving their health and safety systems as a result of reviewing accidents the safer New Zealand workplaces will be in the future. 

How do I know when to complete a Duty Holder review for WorkSafe?

The Duty Holder Review process is voluntary. When WorkSafe receives a notification of a serious harm incident in the workplace an Inspector will make a decision on the appropriate response. If a Duty Holder review is the regulatory decision the inspector will contact the duty-holder to seek agreement to participate in the review. 

What if I don’t agree to participate in a Duty Holder Review?

As it is likely that someone has been seriously harmed in order to be selected, this non-involvement will be noted on your file and it will be taken into account when making decisions regarding future workplace assessment visits. 

I have reported to WorkSafe that one of our employees has been injured - should I fill in the Duty Holder Review form when I notify WorkSafe in writing?

No, Duty Holder Reviews are conducted by Duty Holders at the request of a health and safety inspector after we have triaged the notification. You are welcome to use our forms for your internal enquiry but unless requested you are not required to send a report to WorkSafe other than the form that is required for notification. 

What help is available if I need it to complete the Duty Holder Review?

WorkSafe has a dedicated team of people trained to oversee and support you through the process. The Duty Holder Review Officer (DHRO) will contact you to agree a timeframe in which to have the review completed. They will send you a sample template and a reporting template to complete your review on. You are not required to use this template however if you are using your own, please ensure that the key elements in the DHR template are covered in your report. The DHRO is available to assist you at any time and you will receive the Officer’s contact details should you require assistance. 

What is the role of the Duty Holder Review Officer (DHRO)?

The DHRO works with Duty Holders to oversee and support you in completing the review. They will offer advice, if necessary, on your review process and report to help you identify areas for consideration during the review. They also oversee that you have engaged in improving health and safety systems and that the appropriate actions, if any have been or will be addressed. 

What is WorkSafe NZ looking for from the review?

We are looking that the review shows that you have:

  • Taken responsibility for the incident and are committed to finding ways to do things better
  • Undertaken a thorough analysis of the underlying cause/s of the incident and have identified their failings (if there are any)
  • Taken a systematic approach when undertaking the review and have considered multiple factors influencing/impacting on the health and safety system (not just a point solution approach to the one incident)
  • Formed a constructive, workable plan (including timescales and corrective actions) to change their health and safety system for the better and/or make improvements and when required
  • Genuinely involved other people (particularly a victim/s and workers) in the review process and taken their views/needs into account
  • Reported (or made aware) to any persons in leadership/management positions the details of the review, the findings and any actions/improvements they intend to do that will make the health and safety system better
  • Evidence of communicating with all parties
  • Planned they will follow through on actions/improvements intended to change their health and safety system for the better. 

What happens if I cannot meet the agreed timeframe?

You can ask the DHRO for an extension of time to complete the report. The new timeframe will be confirmed to you in a letter. 
How can I find out more about the Duty Holder Review process?