The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 came into force on 4 April 2016. The Act provides for two mechanisms by which certain activities can be exempt from the Act. Firstly an exemption is automatically invoked when certain conditions within Section 7(4) (a) (i) or (ii) of the Act are met. Secondly Section 7(5) of the Act empowers the Chief of Defence Force to declare certain activities exempt subject to those activities meeting the criteria set out in the Act for an ‘operational activity’.
The Government of New Zealand has authorised operations that the New Zealand Defence Force is currently undertaking and are subsequently currently exempt from the Act by the Government authorisation under Section 7(4) (a) (ii). Future Cabinet papers that seek authorisation to deploy the Armed Forces outside of New Zealand will indicate whether they are exempt from the provisions of the Act or not.
The operations that can be declared exempt from the Act by the Chief of Defence Force are generally related to operational activities within New Zealand. A review of such activities reveals that the following activities merit an exemption:
- Explosive ordnance disposal specifically improvised explosive device disposal including biological/chemical munitions disposal; and
- Counter-terrorism operations.
Scope of an Exemption
Any operational activity exemption will automatically include training that is 'directly in preparation' for a 'specific operational activity'. This includes pre-deployment training. operational level of capability training or theatre induction courses within New Zealand or overseas. In making a declaration, the reasonableness of including broad training programmes versus specific activity, including classroom work, will be carefully considered.
Chief of Defence Force Exemptions for Operational Activities
Listed below are the current Chief of Defence Force declarations of Exemptions for Operational Activities: