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April 2020

A CORRECTION WORTH INVESTING IN

16 Mar 2020, Learn, Prove Your Know How, Safety

WorkSafe’s Enforceable Undertaking initiative is providing businesses in breach of safety practices an opportunity to correct their safety measures as an alternative to traditional prosecution

The completion of an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) by Woods Glass is one example of the WorkSafe enforcement tool that serves as an alternative to prosecution.

In 2018, a Woods Glass worker suffered crushing injuries to their leg while operating a glass cutting machine. Woods Glass applied to WorkSafe successfully for an EU, a voluntary agreement between WorkSafe and a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) following a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015.

Woods Glass is a medium-sized business specialising in glass supply and commercial glazing, with branches across the country. As part of its EU, the company was required to develop resources and implement a suite of  initiatives to benefit its workplace and workers.

This included modifying its migrant worker induction programme so it is easier to understand. The company also now offers interpretation services for all employees who request it.

WorkSafe representatives and Woods Glass recently met to discuss the EU’s completion.

The company’s Operations Manager Tim Reilly said the process was laborious but rewarding.

“Going through the EU was a huge investment for our company,” Mr Reilly said. “A huge amount of work went into seeing this process through. As a medium-sized business, the work has been onerous and at times tough – but it has been invaluable.

“Two years on from the incident we [Woods Glass] are different. Our workers speak up when they see unsafe behaviour.

“We have seen a change in health and safety culture ripple through the business and we hope this benefits the wider industry.”

WorkSafe’s Enforceable Undertaking Spokesperson Cordell Weir said the completion of the Woods Glass EU shows the benefit of the process to smaller companies.

“The work completed as part of Woods Glass’ EU will provide long term sustainable health and safety improvements in the workplace, industry and community.

“An EU isn’t meant to be an easy task. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes for these companies to see the process completed.

“It’s positive to hear another business has found the benefits of the model outweigh the sometimes arduous work.”

How it works

The voluntary agreement between WorkSafe and the PCBU details actions the latter must undertake to respond to the breach of safety, which is expected to:

  • Support progressively higher standards of work health and safety.
  • Remedy the harm caused to any victim(s).
  • Support WorkSafe to meet its strategic priorities.

An enforceable undertaking is not imposed or offered by WorkSafe, as it is the PCBUs responsibility to express interest for WorkSafe to consider.

Before accepting the application, WorkSafe must complete an investigation into the breach of the HWSA and decide whether prosecution is the appropriate response and if the breach amounts to an offence against section 47  (reckless conduct) of the HSWA. Any breach of section 47 precludes an EU from being accepted.

WorkSafe is New Zealand’s primary workplace health and safety regulator, supporting New Zealanders to return home from work healthy and safe. For more information go to: www.worksafe.govt.nz


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