The Health & Safety at Work Act covers both for profit and not for profit undertakings.  Being a Not for Profit does not get your entity out of the duties under the Act.

The exception is for volunteer organisations.  However, the definition of a volunteer organisation is one that has no employees at all (not even part time).  So if your organisation has a part time admin person or cleaner (or any other employee) it is not a volunteer organisation despite all the volunteer work done by the membership.

If your organisation has one central body and many members throughout the country who all belong to the central organisation then one employee of the organisation anywhere in the structure means the entire organisation is covered by the Health & Safety duties under the Act.

If the employee were a contractor rather than an employee then the organisation can still be exempt.  However, if there is one employee then the duties will also extend to any contractors as well.  But just because the Health & Safety at Work Act may not apply does not mean your organisation cannot be liable if someone is injured by your activities.  The Crimes Act still applies and prosecutions under that Act for deaths or injuries can still be taken.  The best way to act is to ensure your organisation identifies any risks and manages those so that no one is injured from the activities.  After all you do not want any of your colleagues, friends, visitors or the public to be hurt by what you do no matter whether they are “at work” or “voluntary”.

Alan Knowsley
Health & Safety Lawyer