Hefty fines over forklift accident

Companies failed to put in place proper workplace rules to manage risk posed by forklifts to workers on foot.  19 August 2014 Three companies have been fined a total of almost $120,000 and ordered to pay combined reparation of $20,000 after a woman was struck by a reversing forklift at a kiwifruit pack house at Mount Maunganui. Erica Machado, 33, suffered a fractured ankle which required pins inserted in it as well as a large laceration to one... Read More

Q & A – Sick leave and ACC

Question: An employee has had a workplace accident. The employee has sick leave available. I understand they are entitled to be paid for the first week (or part thereof) to compensate them for lost earnings, at 80% of what they would have earned that week. Can an employee choose to receive sick leave rather than 80% of their standard wage when they have a workplace accident?  Answer: An employee’s entitlement to sick leave is different from the... Read More

Light-hearted health and safety video

With an important message for us all…    Read More

Quad bike rider fined for not using helmet

14 May 2014 A Marlborough man has been fined $15,000 for not wearing a helmet while riding a quad bike at work – and for carrying a helmetless child as a passenger. It is believed to be the first time someone has been convicted for carrying a passenger on a work quad bike. Herd manager Rangi Holmes was sentenced today at the Nelson District Court on two charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps... Read More

Occupational health experts to advise WorkSafe NZ

An estimated 600-900 New Zealanders die prematurely each year due to work-related illness and disease 7 May 2014 A group of the country’s leading experts on occupational health have been assembled to advise WorkSafe New Zealand about how to help protect people from work-related illness and disease. An estimated 600-900 New Zealanders die prematurely each year due to work-related illness and disease. That toll is over and above the number of workers... Read More

A harsh reminder to take “all practicable steps”

Accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace are not only dangerous and distressful; they can result in very hefty fines.  Below is a collection of recent examples of how employers have failed to take “all practicable steps” to protect their employee’s from harm. “All practical steps” is defined under section 2A of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 as follows: (1) In this Act, all practicable steps, in relation to achieving... Read More

A harsh reminder to take “all practicable steps”

Accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace are not only dangerous and distressful; they can result in very hefty fines.  Below is a collection of recent examples of how employers have failed to take “all practicable steps” to protect their employee’s from harm. “All practical steps” is defined under section 2A of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 as follows: (1) In this Act, all practicable steps, in relation to achieving... Read More

Workers fined over scaffolding accident

WorkSafe says this case is a reminder to all involved in construction of how much they rely on fellow workers to do things properly. 20 March 2014 Two workers have been ordered to pay a total of more than $22,000 in fines and reparations over a scaffolding accident in Dunedin last year which left a roofer with multiple fractures. Daryl Robertson fell three metres in April 2013 after alterations to scaffolding at a Crawford St address left a trap... Read More

New WorkSafe NZ Chief Executive

New CEO intends to tackle New Zealand’s unacceptably high rate of workplace deaths and injuries. 19 March 2014 WorkSafe New Zealand has this week welcomed its new Chief Executive, Gordon MacDonald. Gordon has 35 years’ experience in health and safety in the United Kingdom. He joined the UK’s Health and Safety Executive in 1978, ultimately rising to be Acting Deputy Chief Executive before accepting the top job at WorkSafe NZ. Gordon started at... Read More

Next phase in WorkSafe NZ forestry safety work starts

WorkSafe’s message to contractors: do it right, or don’t do it all. 06 March 2014 WorkSafe New Zealand inspectors will begin a new round of visits to forestry contractors this week focusing on the second of the two most dangerous jobs in the industry — tree felling. “Too many workers in our forests are being killed and injured as they cut the trees, and we have worked closely with the industry and worker representatives to develop Best Practice... Read More

WorkSafe NZ releases guidelines for managing bullying

WorkSafe NZ wants to help people deal proactively with the issue of workplace bullying themselves, and to promote healthy work cultures. Best practice guidelines on workplace bullying, released on 20 February 2014 by WorkSafe New Zealand, are a big step forward in support and guidance for businesses and individuals about what is a prevalent workplace hazard. Titled “Preventing and responding to workplace bullying”, the guidelines encourage and... Read More

Taking Forestry concerns from “bush to board room”

WorkSafe welcomes  confirmation of an industry independent inquiry into forestry safety starting next month. 30 January 2014 The Board of WorkSafe New Zealand has today approved work to ensure forestry owners, managers and contractors do more to protect the lives of workers. Chair Professor Gregor Coster said the Board has given the green light for WorkSafe NZ to review the Forest Operations Approved Code of Practice with proposed critical changes... Read More

Riverlands Eltham fined for workplace injury

Investigation finds safety guard installed on day of injury was “too little too late”. 23 January 2014 Meat processor Riverlands Eltham Ltd has been fined $42,500 and ordered to pay reparations to a staff member of $12,500 following a workplace injury in which the staff member lost the end of his right index finger. The company was convicted in the New Plymouth District Court at a hearing on 5 December last year on one charge of failing to take... Read More

Forestry death and injury

WorkSafe NZ says it will use every power available to push the forestry industry to safer operations. 16 January 2014 WorkSafe New Zealand says news today of a death and a serious injury in the forest sector is deeply saddening. WorkSafe NZ General Manager Health and Safety Operations Ona de Rooy said after delivering an appalling safety record in 2013, to have a death just 16 days into the new year demonstrates just how much this sector needs to... Read More

New Safety Star Rating Scheme (SSRS) to be implemented

SSRS will initially be rolled out to the construction, forestry, and high hazard sectors. Judith Collins, 3 December 2013 ACC Minister Judith Collins says a new Safety Star Rating Scheme (SSRS) is a good opportunity for ACC to encourage better practices with a tangible measure of progress. “If you’re a top performing business, you’ll be recognised for it — and your customers will know about it too,” says Ms Collins. ACC and WorkSafe... Read More

The Government is stepping up on forestry safety

Law reform brings new tiered liability regime and significant increase in the maximum penalty levels. Simon Bridges, 3 December 2013 The Government has stepped up its efforts to improve forestry safety and Labour Minister Simon Bridges is calling on those in the industry to do the same. “The Government is committed to implementing the major step change in workplace health and safety that we need to see in New Zealand, which will help bring... Read More

Forestry fatality — industry performance must improve

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment currently assessing cable logging contracting operations throughout the country Simon Bridges, 27 November 2013 News of the eighth forestry workplace fatality this year is a tragedy for the worker’s family, his colleagues and the whole industry says Labour Minister Simon Bridges. “There’ll be a devastated family in the central North Island who have lost a loved one and I extend my deepest condolences... Read More

Updated standards for medical certificates

On 30th October 2013, the Medical Council released its updated standards for doctors writing medical certificates. Employers are welcoming this update, which has come about from a recent period of review – including submissions from interested parties. The Medical Council chairperson, Dr John Adams says that the writing of medical certificates can be a complicated part of medical practice. It is an area of practice where doctors have responsibilities... Read More

The Medical Council has released its updated standards for doctors writing medical certificates

On 30th October 2013, the Medical Council released its updated standards for doctors writing medical certificates. Employers are welcoming this update, which has come about from a recent period of review – including submissions from interested parties. Highlights of the new standards include: Clearly identifying the examination date and the time period of treatment (if any) – retrospective     certificates should be clearly identified... Read More

Coronial report on quad bike deaths — industry forum to be convened

On average five people are killed and 850 are injured on quad bikes on farms every year. On 11 November Whangarei Coroner Brandt Shortland released findings into five workplace quad bike deaths. As part of his concurrent inquests in April this year into the five deaths, Coroner Shortland invited submissions on quad bike issues from a series of experts and involved parties, and his findings include his conclusions and recommendations (see summary... Read More

Inspectors visiting farms to check on quad bike safety

Farms continue to have one of the highest levels of injury of any workplace in New Zealand, with an average of five quad bike-related deaths annually.  With the arrival of Spring and longer working hours, the chances of an accident on a quad bike rise significantly, and farmers, their families, and farm employees must keep quad bike safety high on their safety priorities list. National Programmes Support & Design Manager Francois Barton... Read More

Kiwis one step closer to lower ACC levies

ACC seeking feedback that will be incorporated into recommendations to the Government for consideration later this year. Judith Collins, 17 September 2013 ACC Minister Judith Collins is welcoming the announcement that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is looking into dropping its average levy rates. Today ACC starts its public consultation on levy rates for levies in the upcoming 2014/15 year. Earlier this year, Ms Collins signalled $300... Read More

33 workplace fatalities in 2013 – updated stats released

A morbid reminder of the importance of health and safety at work There have been 33 workplace fatalities notified to the Health and Safety Group under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992 in 2013 (to 31 August). 12 of these are from agriculture, 8 from forestry, 4 from construction, 3 from transport/postal/warehousing, and 1 each from administration, education, manufacturing, mining, arts & recreation, healthcare & social assistance,... Read More

Recent case: Fine tripled by High Court

The High Court (HC) increased a fine of $18,000 imposed by the District Court (DC) on an employer who had breached the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 to a fine of $60,000. The reparation order of $40,000 made by the DC was unaffected. A worker had fallen from a two-storey building and was seriously and permanently injured. The DC found the employer had not taken all practicable steps to prevent the accident. The High Court analysed... Read More

Major reform of workplace health and safety

Working Safer addresses the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety. Simon Bridges, 7 August 2013 The most significant reform of New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system in 20 years has been announced today by Labour Minister Simon Bridges. “The Working Safer package represents a major step change in New Zealand’s approach to meet our target of reducing the workplace injury and death toll by 25 percent... Read More

Acting chief executive-designate for WorkSafe New Zealand announced

Appointee is currently the chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive in the United Kingdom. 30 July 2013 The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Acting Chief Executive, Greg Patchell, is pleased to announce the appointment of Geoffrey Podger as the Acting Chief Executive-Designate for WorkSafe New Zealand. Mr Podger’s role will be to assist MBIE and the Establishment Board to create WorkSafe... Read More

Forestry industry must improve safety commitment

MBIE about to begin a proactive assessment of logging contracting operations. 19 July 2013 The whole forestry industry has to step up its commitment to worker safety according to the Health and Safety Group of the Ministry. “The death this morning is the sixth this year — that is an awful toll and its effects spread through communities, companies, and loved ones,” General Manager Health and Safety Operations... Read More

WorkSafe New Zealand moves to next stage

New board will oversee the establishment of WorkSafe New Zealand for its December start-up. Simon Bridges, 12 July 2013 Labour Minister Simon Bridges today announced the members of the Establishment Board of the planned new Crown agent, WorkSafe New Zealand. “This Board has the crucial job of overseeing the establishment of WorkSafe New Zealand for its December start-up. The new agency will be focused... Read More

New workplace health and safety system launched

New system charged with reducing serious harm and fatalities by 10% by 2016, 25% by 2020. Workplace health and safety in New Zealand is changing considerably to dramatically reduce serious harm and fatalities. On July 1 a new workplace health and safety system was launched by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Health and Safety group in readiness for the new Crown agency WorkSafe New Zealand, which... Read More

Pike River Bill passes first reading

Omnibus Bill enables transfer of staff and assets to WorkSafe New Zealand in time for its December start-up. Simon Bridges, 27 June 2013 Legislation to establish a new workplace health and safety agency, WorkSafe New Zealand, and to support health and safety regulations for mining has unanimously passed its first reading in Parliament. Labour Minister Simon Bridges says the Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill is an important part of... Read More

What if bad weather prevents work?

Where employees are unable to attend work for reasons outside their control – such as snow, flooding or other weather-related causes, employers will need to consider whether or not they need to be paid. The first step is always to refer to the employment agreement which may provide a guideline, however given the unique nature of these circumstances, such a provision may not exist.  Sometimes such circumstances are covered under the “Force... Read More

Liability under Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

Question: A client owns a commercial building. A roofing contractor, an expert in its field of expertise, is being engaged to undertake repair work. Under OSH, who would be liable should an accident/incident occur; would it be the client or the contractor? Answer: The client and the contractor could both be liable under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (the Act) in the event of an accident. The Act is deliberately non-prescriptive and... Read More

Health and safety liability when hiring contractors

Last week, Labour Minister Simon Bridges launched guidelines for company directors on leading and managing health and safety in their workplaces.  These guidelines say directors should make workplace health and safety a business priority. We thought this would be a timely reminder to our clients about their health and safety obligations, especially with regards to the hiring of contractors, and where the corresponding health and safety liability... Read More

Health and safety guidelines for directors launched

Guidelines say directors should make workplace health and safety a business priority. Simon Bridges, 20 May 2013 Guidelines for company directors on leading and managing health and safety in their workplaces have been launched by Labour Minister Simon Bridges. “This is an important milestone in addressing both the recommendations of the Pike River Royal Commission and the Independent Taskforce on Workplace... Read More

Incentive for more small businesses to improve safety and save money

Businesses can receive a 10% reduction in their annual Work Levy. ACC has expanded its ‘Workplace Safety Discount Programme’, which offers levy discounts to businesses with demonstrated workplace health and safety experience and practices.  The programme is now open to all small to medium-sized businesses and self-employed people. Previously, it was aimed at those working in identified, high-risk industries. “We... Read More

Implications for employees with variable hours of work

When an employee works variable hours, there are many implications an employer needs to take into consideration.  Some of the most common implications are summarised in the article below. Hours of work There is no legislation directly governing how many hours an employee may work per week. The Minimum Wage Act 1983 (section 11B) requires that every employment agreement fix at no more than 40 the maximum number of hours (excluding overtime) to be... Read More

Q & A – Can a permanent employee work different hours each week?

Question: Is it legal for an employee under a individual employment agreement to work variable hours per week? For example, in the retail sector, an employee may work for 30 hours one week, 50 hours in the following week, 20 hours in the third week, 60 hours in the fourth week and so on. Although the hours worked will vary from week to week, the employer will ensure that the employee ends up working only 40 hours per week on average through the year.... Read More

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson resigns — deficiencies in regulatory environment a factor in Pike River disaster

The Royal Commission finds the Department of Labour lacking in focus, capacity and strategies to ensure Pike River Coal Ltd was meeting its legal responsibilities under health and safety laws. 5 November 2012, John Key Prime Minister John Key today welcomed the report of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy. “We owe it to the families of the 29 men who died to find out what happened and why, and a Royal Commission... Read More

John Key’s take on the Royal Commission’s report on Pike River

5 November 2012 Mr Key says the Royal Commission found the immediate cause of the tragedy was a large methane explosion. “The most likely source of the methane was, to use the Royal Commission’s words, the void formed during mining of the first coal extraction in the mine. Alternatively, the source may have been methane that accumulated in the working areas of the mine. “While the exact cause may not be known, the Royal Commission has found... Read More

Reflagging of foreign charter vessels will address labour (and other) concerns

22 May 2012, David Carter, Kate Wilkinson The Government today announced it is to require reflagging of foreign-owned fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters to address labour, safety and fisheries practice concerns. Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson say foreign-flagged fishing vessels will no longer be able to legally operate in New Zealand waters after a four-year transition period. “The Government’s... Read More

Workplace deaths remembered on Memorial Day

28 April 2012, Kate Wilkinson Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day — a time for New Zealand workers and employers to reflect on the importance of health and safety on the job, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says. Falling on April 28 each year, it is a day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. “This is a time to remember those friends, family and colleagues who didn’t come... Read More

New guidelines to reduce workplace falls

19 April 2012, Kate Wilkinson Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has told the construction industry there’s no longer any excuse for failure to work safely at height. The Minister today launched the Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand at the new Wigram Skies housing subdivision in Christchurch. “These guidelines give everyone in the industry clear, simple advice that will help bring down the death and injury toll from avoidable... Read More

New AS/NZS standard: high visibility safety garments

The new Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 High visibility safety garments — Garments for high risk applications supersedes the 1999 standard and does not have any reference to particular types and styles. This has been done so as to give the designer as much flexibility as possible in selecting a suitable garment design to meet different needs as regards weather conditions, type of work, and to be innovative in devising... Read More

One in four agriculture and fishery workers claim for a work-related injury

Agriculture and fishery workers were the most likely occupation group to make a claim to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) for a work-related injury, as reported by Statistics New Zealand. Agriculture and fishery workers had the highest rate of injury claims, with 241 claims for every 1,000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) — nearly 1 in 4. Trades workers had the next highest claim rate, at 202 claims per 1,000 FTEs. This was... Read More

Results of the quad bike safety initiative, 01 September 2011

Statistics have shown that each year, 850 people are injured in quad bike accidents, and of these 160 will not return to work and about four or five will die. In the period from 2002 to 2008, five children under 16 years were killed riding quad bikes, and in the same period quad bikes accounted for 40 percent of all farm fatalities. As a result, the Department of Labour launched its harm reduction programme, raising awareness about quad bike safety... Read More