Health & Safety Prosecutions

health and safety legal complianceIt was only last month that the first significant sentencing decision was made under the ‘new’ Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act).  The case of Worksafe New Zealand v Budget Plastics (New Zealand) Limited illustrated maximum penalty considerations under the new Act.  The maximum penalty for a breach under the Act is a fine of $3 million (depending on who the duty holder is) or even imprisonment. But don’t be alarmed!

Health and Safety compliance is about putting a suitable system in place and making sure it is used.

Let’s consider a sample of elements that make an effective and compliant safety system:

  • Be aware of what your own health and safety obligations are in relation to your role or position in a business.
  • Staff must be involved in important safety matters and decisions, and given reasonable opportunities to be represented, to participate and to engage in workplace health and safety.
  • Foreseeable hazards and risks to health and safety must be identified, and clear strategies put in place for managing them.
  • There is now also a more prescriptive ‘hierarchy’ of control measures under the Act, for how identified hazards and risks are to be dealt with.
  • Regular reviews of a business’ safety management system must be carried out and these would also include industry specific standards or codes of practice, emergency procedures, staff training and induction procedures, to name a few aspects of a safety management system.

It is to be hoped that all employers and their staff will be motivated by a concern for their own and others’ health and safety.

If you would like further advice or a compliance check of your own health and safety system feel free to give us a call.