The New Zealand government has confirmed its work health and
safety legislation will be overhauled in response to the
recommendations of the Independent Taskforce of Workplace Health
and Safety. The Taskforce, formed following the Pike River mining
tragedy that killed 29 people, recommended that the government
significantly reform New Zealand's work health and safety
regulatory regime after identifying a number of shortcomings.
The new Health and Safety at Work Bill will be developed on
Australia's model Work Health and Safety laws and will
Introducing the concept of a PCBU as a means to allocate duties
to those people who can best control work health and safety
Adopting the primary duty of care (section 19 Work Health
and Safety Act 2011 (NSW));
Clarifying what amounts to a reasonably practicable step;
Requiring people in governance roles to comply with a positive
due diligence duty (and providing consequences if they fail to
comply with their duties).
The new Health and Safety at Work Act will provide additional
enforcement powers for WorkSafe, the new health and safety
regulator, and for the courts. This will include:
Accepting enforceable undertakings from duty holders;
Introducing a hierarchy of offences and corresponding
penalties. The maximum penalty for corporations in New Zealand will
increase from $500,000 to $3 million and imprisonment of up to five
years will be introduced for the most serious offences; and
The publishing of information about the enforcement action
undertaken by WorkSafe.
The New Zealand government is still considering the
Taskforce's recommendation on extending the criminal offence of
manslaughter to include corporate manslaughter. Australian work
health and safety regulations, codes of practice and guidance
materials will also be adopted, to the extent they are relevant to
arrangements and practices undertaken in New Zealand.
The Health and Safety at Work Bill will be introduced to
parliament in December.
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