Ways to stay safe at work

Everyone who goes to work should come home healthy and safe.

None of us go to work with the intention of injuring ourselves or others, but in 2021, 223,000 claims were made to ACC by Kiwis injured at work. 

Workplace safety is a responsibility that is shared by both the business owner and its employees. Creating a safe work environment is more than keeping your policies and procedures guidelines up-to-date, it’s also about making sure everyone in your organisation looks out for each other, reports unsafe work practices or behaviour and finds ways to improve the health and wellbeing of workmates.

Employment Assistance Programmes can provide practical assistance if you need help dealing with work-related issues.

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Here are some tips for making it home safely from work each day:

1. Safety is everyone’s responsibility

Keeping yourself and your work colleagues safe is a team effort. Your employer has obligations to make sure risks at work are minimised or eliminated, but employees also have a personal responsibility to speak up if they think a situation is unsafe. Make sure there is a chain of command and someone to report any issues to.

Remember, different businesses have different risks. It all depends on what sort of work you do. Under New Zealand law, workers have the right to stop work if they believe it's unsafe.

2. Get the proper training

If you’re using machinery, tools or other equipment in your job, make sure you receive the proper training before you get started. Don’t take shortcuts when using equipment and keep up-to-date with current practices.

Under New Zealand law, you must notify Worksafe when certain work-related events (eg, a notifiable illness, injury, incident or death) occur.

3. Look after your body

Repetitive movements, sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time and other factors can contribute to occupational overuse syndrome. An occupational workplace assessment can be helpful to ensure your workspace is designed well or you’re performing tasks without putting your body at risk. 

4. Take regular breaks

Stand up, stretch, take a breather. Regular short breaks away from your desk or workspace benefits you physically and is good for your mental health. Read about rest and meal breaks here.

5. Keep your stress levels in check

Everyone has stressful days at work, but ongoing stress can cause a range of physical and psychological problems, and lead to accidents. Find ways to minimise workplace stress and aim to have a good work-life balance.

6. Know the law

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is Aotearoa New Zealand's workplace health and safety law. You can read about your obligations as an employer or find out more as an employee at Worksafe NZ. 

7. If you work from home

Many people are now working from home, at least some of the time. If that's the case then your home becomes your workplace and still needs to be an environment where you can be safe and productive. You may be juggling parenting and work at the same time which can add to the stress and potential for accidents to happen. Read more about mixing work and parenting and how to work from home due to COVID-19.

Learn more

Health and safety at work – quick reference guide Worksafe NZ
Health and safety at work Employment New Zealand 
Workplace health and safety programmes Employment New Zealand
First Steps NZ  An online hub to support your journey to wellbeing as a business owner, manager, or employee


  1. Injury Statistics – work-related claims: 2021 Statistics NZ, 2022
  2. Health and safety at work – quick reference guide Worksafe NZ, 2021
  3. Rest and meal breaks Employment NZ, 2021
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.