2020 Litigation Forecast - Health & Safety: Compliant not complacent
Health and Safety continues to be the number
one item on Board agendas.
With the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 heading
into its fifth year, WorkSafe is focusing on sustainable
business models from a health and safety perspective
and prioritising the care of workers, rather than
We expect WorkSafe’s key priorities to include:
- Minimising workplace health exposures: 750 to 1,000
people are dying each year because of workplace health
exposures, such as asbestosis, silicosis, chemical use,
and sun-related cancers. Asbestos-related prosecutions
are underway, and we predict a greater focus on the
prevention of health-exposure harm and increased
penalties for businesses failing in this area.
- Strategic litigation: We anticipate that WorkSafe will
look closely at bringing prosecutions that will develop
or clarify the law in a particular area. These include:
- upstream ‘PCBU’ duties;
- officer duties; and
- discrimination of workers who raise legitimate
health and safety issues.
- Maruiti 2025: This strategy is aimed at providing a
focus for Māori health and safety needs. This is a result
of data illustrating a disproportionate level of harm on
Māori in the workplace. WorkSafe’s aim is to reduce the
level of harm to Māori workers to at least the same level
as non-Māori by 2025.
Industrial manslaughter has been an offence in the
United Kingdom since 2008 and is an offence in some
states in Australia. We expect the discussion on whether
to introduce industrial manslaughter in New Zealand
to remain live. However, given New Zealand’s business
community is predominantly made up of small to medium
size enterprises, this is not likely to be on the agenda for
the Government in an election year.