News & thinking

Health and Safety:

Are vaccine mandates under threat?

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As we head into the peak of Omicron, vaccine mandates remain highly contentious and the subject of prolonged protests around the country. Rather than joining the protest, three Police and Defence Force workers have convinced the High Court that…
Woman wearing a mask getting a vaccination

New law on vaccine requirements in the workplace

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The Covid-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill was introduced yesterday and is expected to be passed into law later this week.  The Bill sets out the process an employer must follow to terminate an employee’s employment for failing…

Your obligations when WorkSafe comes knocking

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A recent prosecution by WorkSafe provides a timely reminder that individuals and businesses have obligations to assist WorkSafe inspectors carrying out their roles. So, what is your duty and what steps do you need to take to avoid enforcement…
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Duties as a PCBU – does a contract matter?

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The High Court has provided welcome guidance on the question of whether the absence of a contract between duty holders affects the question of whether a party can be liable under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). What happened? In…
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COVID-19 vaccination – can you make it mandatory on health and safety grounds?

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Organisations have well-known obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. With public access to the COVID-19 vaccine expected within the coming…

Reflecting on the 10-year anniversary of the Pike River Mine explosion

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Ten years ago the Pike River Mine exploded, killing 29 men working underground.  This tragedy affected not just the victims but also their families, the array of businesses involved in the mine, and the broader West Coast community.  At…

Can New Zealand move from a focus of health and safety compliance to better work practices?

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The Health and Safety at Work Act has now been in force for over 4 years. Grant Nicholson and WorkSafe’s CEO, Phil Parkes look at the Act’s impact and WorkSafe’s focus in the years to come. The Health and Safety at Work Act has now…

Ensuring contractor competency is a critical health and safety issue

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Finding competent contractors, and ensuring they implement appropriate health and safety processes, can often be a challenge.   A recent prosecution of a principal for engaging incompetent contractors highlights the importance of taking…

First prosecution under tough Australian motor vehicle chain of responsibility laws: what might this mean for New Zealand?

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Australia has strengthened its heavy vehicle transport Chain of Responsibility (COR) requirements and aligned them with workplace health and safety laws. The purpose of this reform was to clarify requirements, encourage a greater focus on…

When fines are not enough – should workplace health and safety offending lead to seizure of assets as proceeds of crime?

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A workplace fatality in 2015 resulted in multiple health and safety related convictions for a company and its managing director. The High Court is now being asked to decide whether proceeds of crime legislation can be used to seize millions…

Helping to make asbestos management easier

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Asbestos related issues are an ongoing problem for businesses in New Zealand.  To help make compliance easier, WorkSafe New Zealand has recently launched a tool to help businesses develop their Asbestos Management Plans.  All businesses…

When returning to work consider these health and safety issues related to COVID-19

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We imagine you (like the majority of our clients) will want to resume work as soon as you can, and part of doing so will be grappling with the health and safety related issues around COVID-19. We are naturally getting quite a few queries…

COVID-19: What do essential services need to do to manage health and safety?

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The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus has seen New Zealand – and the world – plunged into uncharted territory. On 26 March 2020, the Government took the unprecedented step of raising New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert to level four, resulting…

What should you be doing now to mitigate the health and safety risks posed by a potential Coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand?

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In the wake of the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the Coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, China going into lockdown, and the New Zealand Ministry of Health advising against travel plans in the near future, New Zealand…

Shared responsibilities – identifying and managing health and safety risks in leased premises

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Landlords and tenants need to pro-actively assess and manage the health and safety related risks their premises and operations may pose, and cannot contract out or delegate this responsibility to each other or a property manager. Ultimately,…

Silicosis – is this the new asbestosis?

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Relatively little is known about the problem of silicosis in New Zealand, but data from around the world suggests construction workers, and workers in the stone bench top industry may be at risk from this disease. What is it, and how can you…

Is the New Zealand Transport Agency going to become a designated health and safety regulator?

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Following an independent review of the New Zealand Transport Agency's performance, the Government is considering designating the Transport Agency as a regulator under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). Such a move would significantly…

Open for consultation – an update to the classification system for hazardous substances

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently seeking public submissions on the proposed adoption in New Zealand of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7 (2017). What's happening? The…

WorkSafe New Zealand’s new Data Centre goes live

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WorkSafe has recently launched an online resource containing a wealth of workplace health and safety data and information. The new "Data Centre" is available through WorkSafe's website at:  https://data.worksafe.govt.nz/. It is heralded…

New health and safety regulations are on the way

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It is three years since the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 ('HSWA') came into force, and work is underway to review the existing regulatory framework and improve requirements for the management of risks associated with plant, structures,…

Taking workplace bullying seriously — lessons from Australia

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Bullying is currently a hot media topic (and rightly so), but traditionally it's been seen as an employment – rather than health and safety - issue.  Australia's workplace health and safety regulators are now taking allegations of workplace…

New Zealand courts are starting to use their extended sentencing powers

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The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 ('HSWA') introduced several new sentencing tools for the courts when sentencing duty holders for health and safety offences. After a slow start, we are finally starting to see Judges use these new sentencing…

Doubts about proposed corporate manslaughter law

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This decade has brought the issue of workplace fatalities sharply into New Zealanders' collective consciousness. The Pike River mining disaster in 2010, the collapse of the Christchurch Television building during the 2011 earthquake and a wave…