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
compliance alone.

WorkSafe priorities

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

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.

Read the full Litigation Forecast

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