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Don't make it worse … notify WorkSafe

Written by Alison Maelzer & Sam Houliston on February 20th, 2018.

You know the adage, "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging"? It is apt in so many areas of business (and life!) but is particularly relevant when it comes to WorkSafe notifications. Our message to you – if there is an incident or event that needs to be notified to WorkSafe, for heaven's sake, notify it! Keeping quiet is only going to make the proverbial hole deeper.

We saw a good example of this in a recent WorkSafe District Court prosecution where an Auckland business was convicted and sentenced on two charges: failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker, and failing to notify WorkSafe of a "notifiable event".

The incident occurred in May 2016 when approximately 200 kg of plasterboard fell on a worker, causing a skull fracture and head injuries, which required surgery and four days in hospital. Trade Depot Limited, the PCBU, failed to notify WorkSafe at the time. Two months later when it was notified to WorkSafe, Trade Depot downplayed the incident – saying that the worker had suffered "probable concussion", but leaving out its knowledge of the extensive bleeding, fractures, surgery and hospitalisation.

Unsurprisingly, when further information about the seriousness of the injuries came to WorkSafe's attention (it has ways and means of finding out!) it was less than impressed, and an investigation and prosecution followed. The court imposed a fine of $16,875 against the PCBU for failing to notify (in addition to a significant fine for the charge of failing to ensure the worker's safety, plus reparation and prosecution and court costs).

We wrote an article about exactly what needs to be notified in August last year Who ya gonna call – it is well worth having another read to remind yourself of the requirements. There is a $50,000 maximum fine for failing to notify as soon as possible (plus the inherent danger in annoying the regulator which will be investigating the accident) so our advice is to err on the side of caution.

If you have any questions about your obligations to notify WorkSafe or you have had an incident and are wondering whether its something that needs to be notified, please give us a call. We can help get you out of the hole – or at least stop it getting deeper.


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