Volunteers and Health and Safety

New Zealand has long operated on the approach that community is vitally important to not only support by to be a part of.  As such there are many organisations that have either volunteers assist them or are in fact totally reliant on volunteers in order to operate.  Whilst we do not want to see this aspect of our New Zealand culture change it is important that we make sure we keep all our volunteers safe and they keep us and our community safe too.

What about a Volunteer?

Under the new Health and Safety legislation a PCBU owes the primary duty to ensure the health and safety of its workers and others, so far as reasonably practicable.  A volunteer association, which is where volunteers work together for community purposes and does not have any employees, is not a PCBU.

colourful-volunteer-vectorTypes of Volunteer?

If a volunteer association has employees, then it is a PCBU.  The new legislation does distinguish between “casual volunteers” and “volunteer workers” in this situation:
“Volunteer workers” are those who regularly work for a PCBU with its knowledge and consent, and are integral to the PCBU’s operations.  The PCBU owes the primary duty to volunteer workers as if they were any other worker.

“Casual volunteers” are those who do not fall within the definition of volunteer workers.  Specific examples include (but are not limited to) participating in a fundraising activity, assisting with sports or recreation clubs, assisting with activities of an educational institution outside that institution’s premises, and providing care for another person in the volunteer’s home. The health and safety of these volunteers will be covered by the PCBU’s duty to other persons affected by the work of the PCBU.

Look after your Volunteers

If in doubt we suggest you treat your volunteers with full communication and support them to carry out their duties in a safe way.  Let them know what you expect of them, ensure they know the correct procedures to follow and persons to contact if they are unsure.  It is really important we share our knowledge and information, especially to our volunteer community.

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