Health and safety glossary

This page contains a list of terms used in health and safety guidance and legislation.

Control measures

Ways of eliminating or minimising risks to health and safety.

Due diligence

The care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property.


A moral or legal obligation, a responsibility. See also "primary duty of care".

Duty holder

A duty holder is a person who has a duty under HSWA.


Education outside the classroom.


A situation or thing that has the potential to cause death, injury or illness to a person.


Health and safety representative.

Multiple PCBU

See "overlapping duties".


A person who holds a very senior leadership position and has the ability to significantly influence the management of a PCBU.

Other person

Anyone who is not a worker or an officer of the PCBU eg visitors, volunteers, students, general public and anyone who may be put at risk by the work of the PCBU.

Other volunteers

Other volunteers do not carry out work on an ongoing and regular basis for a school and they are not integral to the school’s operations.

Overlapping duties

This is when more than one PCBU has health and safety duties in relation to the same matter.

Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)

The PCBU is usually a legal or corporate entity. In a school setting this is the board of trustees. See also overlapping duties.

Primary duty of care

The primary duty of care requires the PCBU to (so far as is reasonably practicable):

  • provide and maintain a work environment, plant and systems of work that are without risks to health and safety
  • ensure the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances
  • provide adequate facilities at work for the welfare of workers, including ensuring access to those facilities
  • provide the information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to protect workers and others from risks to their health and safety
  • monitor the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace for the purpose of preventing illness or injury.


The likelihood certain consequences (death, injury or illness) might occur when a person is exposed to a hazard.

So far as is reasonably practicable

Duty holders need to consider that which is, or was, at a particular time, reasonably able to be done in relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters.

In the HSWA, reasonably practicable, in relation to a duty of a board (the PCBU) means that which is, or was, at a particular time, reasonably able to be done in relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters including:

Section 22 of HSWA:

(a) The likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring; and

(b) The degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk; and

(c) What the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about—

(i) The hazard or risk; and

(ii) Ways of eliminating or minimising the risk; and

(d) The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk; and

(e) After assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

Volunteer association

A group of volunteers working together for one or more community purposes, where none of the volunteers employs anyone to carry out work for the volunteer association. Volunteers are not classed as a PCBU.

Volunteer worker

People who regularly work for the school on an ongoing basis and are integral to the school’s operations. This includes reading tutors, library helpers, road patrol helpers, school canteen helpers.


An individual who carries out work in any capacity for a PCBU such as employees, contractors, subcontractors, volunteer workers, people on work experience and trainees.

Worker participation/worker engagement

Effective engagement involves the board increasing its workers’ awareness of health and safety and drawing on the workers’ knowledge and experience of health and safety to make better decisions.


A defined group of workers who are represented by one or more health and safety representatives. The workgroup may be defined by physical location, a business group or group of workers who have common risks.


A place where work is being carried out, or is customarily carried out, for a business or undertaking and includes any place where a worker goes or is likely to be at work.


A government agency and New Zealand’s work health and safety regulator.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback