The Government has announced sweeping new changes concerning OSH as a result of Pike River Mining Royal Commission of Enquiry. The Government is proposal enormous changes including a new Crown Department which will be separate from the Labour Department and a new legislative framework. The Minister has announced that it is modelled on the most recent Australian version and is an attempt to meet the recommendations of the Royal Commission and to further address New Zealand’s relatively high work accident fatality rate.
The Government’s recent proposal is called “Working Safer – A Blueprint for Health & Safety at Work”. We are currently waiting for a significant Waitakere District Court Decision involving one of our clients who is being prosecuted for a fatality at work. Clients may recall the young security guard employed on the redevelopment of the Lincoln Road Interchange on Auckland’s north-western motorway. He was murdered by a group of apparently intoxicated strangers. The Department of Labour prosecuted on the basis of the employer allegedly not providing a safe and secure workplace. The Court heard this matter in early 2013 and has still not issued its Decision, and such a delay is very unusual for the District Court. Perhaps this highlights the significance of the issues before the Court. The factual situation was quite unique for New Zealand and attracted, and continues to attract, considerable publicity.