Your rights and obligations

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) provides you and your workmates with a number of rights and you have the right to stop working if you believe it is unhealthy or unsafe

You are entitled to:

You have a right to stop work if you believe it is unhealthy or unsafe.

You must:

  • take reasonable care of your own health and safety and ensure that your actions don’t cause harm to yourself or others
  • comply with any reasonable instructions, policies or procedures on how to work in a safe and healthy way.

You should let someone at your workplace (such as a supervisor, or a Health and Safety Representative) know if you have a health and safety concern, or want to suggest an improvement, even though this is not a legal requirement.

If it's not safe - speak up!

Speak up – your voice can make a difference. You play an important part in your workplace health and safety.

Your workplace must ensure that you have a say on any health and safety matters that could affect you or your workmates, and consider your suggestions on how to improve health and safety at work.

Your PCBU must:

  • ask for input on matters which relate to your health and safety
  • have ways for you to participate in improving work health and safety on a day to day basis.

The ways for you and other workers to contribute should be clear and well-known to everyone.

You don’t have a legal obligation to respond when asked for your views. However, when you take part you are helping to make sure that the right issues are considered, and that the results are practical for you and your workmates.

If you have a suggestion or concern but aren’t comfortable raising it yourself, you can:

  • talk to your HSR, if your workplace has one
  • ask a workmate to raise an issue for you
  • contact your union (union delegates can act as advocates for and negotiators about work health and safety).

Right to stop or refuse to carry out work

You have the right to stop work or refuse to carry out work if you believe that doing the work would expose you, or anyone else, to a serious risk to health or safety from an immediate or upcoming hazard.

  • If you have stopped work, you need to let the PCBU know as soon as you can.
  • Once you’ve tried to resolve the issue with the PCBU, you don’t have to start work again if you still reasonably believe that you or another person would be in danger.

If you and the PCBU have made reasonable efforts but still haven't been able to resolve the issue, you can ask WorkSafe for help.

We have also produced a fact sheet for workers  explaining your rights and responsibilities. This fact sheet is available in English, Māori, Chinese, Hindi, Samoan and Tongan.

Your health and safety rights and responsibilities (PDF 61 KB)

Your health and safety rights and responsibilities - Maori (PDF 57 KB)

Your health and safety rights and responsibilities - Chinese (PDF 175 KB)

Your health and safety rights and responsibilities - Hindi (PDF 351 KB)

Your health and safety rights and responsibilities - Samoan (PDF 61 KB)

Your health and safety rights and responsibilities - Tongan (PDF 63 KB)