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Engage in health and safety

22 November 2023

Health and safety is better when everyone is involved. UC expects everyone will take an active part in looking after their own health and safety and in looking out for each other. Learn more and engage in health and safety at UC.


At a very basic level this means being aware of hazards and reporting these to ensure these are eliminated or controlled to prevent harm. But Health and Safety is more than this.

Health and Safety is also about having conversations and maintaining awareness. It is a communal responsibility, and it’s a collaborative way of identifying opportunities and challenges and acting on them for the benefit of the University community. Health and Safety is a good thing to be involved in.

The University of Canterbury is a PCBU (Person in Control of Business or Undertaking) as set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The University has an agreement with the Combined Unions to promote cooperation with workers and the unions representing those workers and ensuring everyone is provided with reasonable opportunity to be actively involved in the ongoing management of health and safety. This agreement is the foundation document for workers’ participation system at University of Canterbury. 

Roles at UC (staff only) 

H&S Reps | Department Safety Officers | First Aiders | Evacuation Wardens

Health and Safety Training

The Health and Safety Team in conjunction with Learning and Development facilitates a number of courses specifically relating to health and safety topics. The Health and Safety Training page has more information about courses and how to enrol.

University Health and Safety Committees

The University is a diverse and exciting environment. The Health and Safety committees align to the structure of the University, with an overall University Health and Safety committee drawn from College and Service Health and Safety committees along with representation from the leadership team, the TEU, and UCSA.  Meetings are held four times a year.  

Current membership of the committees is available here: Health and Safety Committee Members

Minutes from Health and Safety Committee meetings are available for staff only.  

Department Safety Officer (DSO)

The Department Safety Officer are Management Representatives who have been delegated health and safety duties as part of their role, by the manager who has responsibility for the department. To distinguish from a Health and Safety Representative, DSOs are not elected by peers.

The DSO can be based in a department, or service unit, and is required to maintain the Health and Safety procedures within their department. The role requires collaboration with Health and Safety representatives, Union Organisers, the Health and Safety Business Partner and any Health and Safety Consultants engaged with by the University.

The University of Canterbury fosters positive Health and Safety management practices in the place of work and shall ensure the Department Safety Officer has sufficient time and resources to undertake the role effectively.

Read more detail on what a Department Safety Officers does here: DSO Functions

Department Safety Officers (staff only)

Becoming a Health and Safety Representative

Health and Safety Reps are integral to health and safety management at University of Canterbury. Along with representing employees in matters of health and safety, reps play a role in reporting and investigating issues, monitoring the University’s performance in health and safety management.

Read more detail on what a Health and Safety Representative does here: Health and Safety Representative Functions

H&S Reps (staff only)

Health and Safety Representatives are elected for a term of three years. When that term expires nominations will be requested for the vacant position. It may be that the outgoing representative will be happy to stay on and in this case a Health and Safety Rep - Nomination form (PDF)  will need to be completed.

If there are more nominations than available positions then elections will be held. The Health and Safety Team manages the process for Health and Safety Representative Elections.  For any questions relating to Health and Safety Reps and Committees contact the Health and Safety Team.

Undertake Health & Safety Training

Health & Safety Initial Representative

You will soon be able to apply online via DevelopMe, in the meantime please email the Learning & Development Team directly at and request to be enrolled.

Course Description:

This self-paced online course is designed to provide you with the fundamentals in representing the concerns and overseeing the wellbeing of fellow staff.

You will learn how to effectively perform the responsibilities of a workplace Health and Safety role, understand Health and Safety legal requirements, and promote the successful management of Health and Safety issues in good faith.

This course is compulsory under Sections 70(a) and 85(a) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 for training Health and Safety Representatives.

There are additional courses available that build on the initial representative course. 

The key learning outcomes are:

  1. Explain and demonstrate the overall role, powers and functions of a Health and Safety Representative in a New Zealand workplace
  2. Explain the role, functions and powers of the Health and Safety Representative under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and its Regulations
  3. Explain the role of a Health and Safety Representative as an advocate for workers
  4. Identify the obligations of a PCBU and WorkSafe New Zealand towards the Health and Safety Representative
  5. Describe the risk management process and the importance of communicating with workers and management
  6. Describe and demonstrate the powers and obligations that a health and safety representative has in terms of issuing a provisional improvement notice (PIN) and how and when to direct a worker to cease unsafe work

The annual Health, Safety & Wellbeing Awards acknowledge people and teams who demonstrate commitment and achievement in improving health, safety & wellbeing at the University of Canterbury. They give campus-wide recognition to good ideas, superior systems, great initiatives, and hardworking people who have made a difference to UC. Winners of these awards will be celebrated at the annual Hui Whakamānawa

The Awards are divided into two categories:

1. Health and Safety Initiative Award - Seek funding to help advance a Health, Safety & Wellbeing initiative. Applicants will need to set out clear objectives, provide a budget and show they have support from the relevant department.. 

2. Health and Safety Recognition - Recognition for a piece of work, actions completed, or a non-funded initiative realised. 

Nominations and applications may be received from all staff members (including part-time and fixed term staff).

Further details about the purpose, eligibility and criteria for determining awards is set out in the Protocol: Health, Safety & Wellbeing Awards

Applicants will need to complete the online applications for either the Health Safety, and Wellbeing Recognition or the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Initiative Award

2023 Timeline:

Applications open – Tuesday 2 May 2023 

Applications close – Friday 13 October 2022

Awards ceremony acknowledging winners – Wednesday 6 December 2023

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