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_100x100 1
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

Don’t Let Your Guard Down
The risks arising from the use of unguarded machinery are well-known to the point of being blindingly obvious.  The measures to ensure the safe operation of machinery are usually straightforward.  W...
19.02.2019 Posted in Health & Safety Law
CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT REFORM: Ten Guidelines the Government could Adopt
“We need to lead by example and if there are things that we can do to take a leadership position with that industry then we should be.” Prime Minister Ardern[1] As 2018 draws to a close a...
21.12.2018 Posted in Construction Law
Nearly there! Only a few days of 2018 left!
Just a quick note from the Hesketh Henry Employment team about what’s on the horizon:
18.12.2018 Posted in Employment Law
When did you last have your Ts & Cs reviewed?
The Commerce Commission recently announced that, after its investigation of jeweller Michael Hill Limited, the company was fined $169K for breaching its obligations in relation to the extended warrant...
13.12.2018 Posted in Corporate & Commercial law
Time for Change (again!)
The winds of change are once again blowing through the employment law landscape.
10.12.2018 Posted in Employment Law
Summer Maritime Update
Welcome to our summer maritime update - November 2018
27.11.2018 Posted in Maritime Law
Employment Litigation Costs: In for a penny, in for a pound?
Vindication is frequently offered as a motivation for litigation.
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.