9.05.2018

Working Safer – Government’s Blueprint for Health and Safety Released

The Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, yesterday announced the introduction of a package of health and safety reforms, which aim to make a significant dent in New Zealand’s comparatively poor rates of workplace fatalities and injuries.

The package includes a whole range of initiatives, as we have predicted in our July ezine Health and Safety article.

In particular, the Blueprint notes that we can expect to see draft legislation in December this year, which will repeal the current Health and Safety in Employment Act, and replace it with a new Act, based on the Australian Model law. The new legislation will aim to:

  • Clarify both duty holders and their respective duties
  • Cover alternative working relationships
  • Place positive duties on directors to actively manage health and safety in the workplace
  • Contain controls to manage hazardous substances in the workplace
  • Provide appropriate regulations and guidance without being overly prescriptive

According to the Government, the Bill will also include a suite of new compliance and enforcement tools, including:

  • Stronger penalties (in this respect, we note that the Australian model law provides for fines of up to $3 million for a company, and $600,000 and up to 5 years’ imprisonment for an individual)
  • New compliance tools and Court powers including the likely introduction of ‘adverse publicity orders’
  • Cost recovery mechanisms for prosecutions

One of the more controversial aspects so far is the announcement that the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, is considering corporate manslaughter and the general corporate liability framework – that is, whether to allow a company to be charged with manslaughter in respect of a workplace death. The Government has been at pains to point out that this is just an idea, and no decisions on this point have yet been made.

The package of reforms also includes an increased emphasis on worker participation and representation, including:

  • Worker perspectives on the Board of WorkSafe, the Crown Agency with overall responsibility for workplace health and safety
  • Expert advisory groups containing worker representation
  • Strengthening the legal framework for worker participation
  • Ensuring there are specific obligations on all employers to support worker participation
  • Expanding the powers and responsibilities of health and safety employee representatives
  • Further protections for workers who raise health and safety issues
  • Requirements that businesses of all sizes must have worker participation practices appropriate to the business
  • An increased emphasis on building the capability and education of workers to allow them to participate effectively

The Blueprint also provides for ACC and WorkSafe to work more closely together on data gathering, research, and evaluation, and to remove duplication and potential gaps. It plans to provide more incentives for businesses to improve their workplace safety, including enhanced ACC incentives, and a Safety Star rating system which allows principals to see at a glance whether a proposed contractor has a proven health and safety commitment and record.

 

Do you need expert legal advice?
Contact the expert team at Hesketh Henry.
Kerry
Media contact - Kerry Browne
Please contact Kerry with any media enquiries and with any questions related to marketing or sponsorships on +64 9 375 8747 or via email.

Related Articles / Insights & Opinion

Force Majeure – Not A Get Out Of Jail Free Card
Woolworths Group Ltd v Twentieth Super Pace Nominees Pty Ltd [2021] NSWSC 344
17.06.2022 Posted in Trade and Transport
Payment Claims: Incorrect Due Date From Delayed Delivery
Nicholls Group Projects Ltd v Plan Design Build Homes Ltd
20.05.2022 Posted in Construction
Employment Court Deems Gloriavale Residents Employees
The definition of “employee” in the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA) can at times be tricky to navigate; recent cases involving builders, couriers, and uber drivers can attest to the issues tha...
18.05.2022 Posted in Employment
New proposals on modern slavery place higher responsibilities on NZ organisations
Over recent years, modern slavery has become a more prominent issue in New Zealand.
13.05.2022 Posted in Business Advice
Insurance Contracts Bill – submissions on exposure draft closing soon
As we reported in late February, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is seeking submissions on the exposure draft Insurance Contracts Bill.  Submissions close on 4 May 2022. MB...
20.04.2022 Posted in Insurance
Matariki and Fair Pay Agreements
Matariki Te Pire mō te Hararei Tūmatanui o te Kāhui o Matariki (Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Bill) received Royal Assent yesterday, and the new Act comes into force today – 12 April 20...
12.04.2022 Posted in Employment
A Landmark Change? – Proposed reform of the occupational regulation of engineers
Engineers engage in building work that is critical to public safety. Despite this, few restrictions are placed on who can carry out and supervise complex and specialised projects that require high levels of professional judgement, skill and technical competence.
07.04.2022 Posted in Construction
Send us an enquiry
For expert legal advice, please complete the form below or call us on (09) 375 8700.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
-->