Obligations of PCBU's


Two parties were recently fined a total of $63,000 after twice disregarding WorkSafe notices about unsafe work from a height, and putting workers at risk of serious harm by failing to ensure workers were protected from a risk of falling from a height while building farm sheds.

WorkSafe’s Head of General Inspectorate Jo Pugh said an inspector visited the site in question and immediately observed a number of failings, primarily that there was no system on site to prevent a fall from height onto concrete below.

A prohibition notice was issued, and the builders should have immediately worked to remedy the problem, but a subsequent revisit from Worksafe inspectors found that instead the builders continued to cut corners by installing shoddy fall protection.

Both parties failed to ensure work was carried out safely despite both having responsibilities for employees’ health and safety.

Mrs Pugh said “The disregard for workers safety, not once, but twice, is unacceptable. If WorkSafe is made aware of any unsafe work from a height taking place businesses can be assured that there will be consequences.”

Following prosecution, both companies were sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, i.e.

Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at work in the business or undertaking, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed individuals, to a risk of death or serious injury arising from a fall from height.

As I am sure you are aware, all PCBU’s have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others. There is a “Duty to Test” placed on all PCBU’s to ensure that the materials and systems they use are capable of performing as expected without risk to health and safety of the workforce ( HSWA 2015) ( The Act).

Safety Nets NZ has worked closely with the team at Massey University School of Engineering and Technology to ensure that the fall protection systems that are provided are fit for purpose by undertaking lengthy and robust testing of all elements of our safety net systems. We are the only one of two companies in the country that can prove that our safety net systems have been independently tested and certified as fit for purpose.

As the Engineers at the University conclude, “The testing and research carried out confirms that Safety Nets NZ Limited has tested it’s systems in accordance with the requirements of the Act”.

Therefore, all of our clients can rest assured that as PCBU they have discharged their duties regards the requirements of the Act. They can also be confident that the soft fall protection systems we provide have been independently tested and perform at the required standard, and that they are using a system that is without risk to the health and safety of their workforce.

So when considering the type of equipment/system to be adopted to address a specific safety risk remember that it needs to be fit for purpose upon installation, as well as for the lifetime that it is in use on your site.

Until next time,


23 2020