On 7 August 2013 the Government announced their plan to improve workplace health and safety systems. The Government’s key goal is to reduce the rate of fatalities and serious injuries in the workplace by at least 25% by 2020.

The Government has designed the plan around 3 foundation concepts being: working smarter, targeting risk and working together.

The new legislation will be based on the Australian Model Work Health and Safety law and is aimed to simplify trans-Tasman health and safety obligations.

The key dates are – December 2013, WorkSafe New Zealand will be up and running as a new crown agency, and the Health and Safety at Work Bill will be introduced to Parliament. In December 2014 the Health and Safety at Work Act will be in place with its supporting regulations and approved codes of practice.

The new legislation will increase the penalties that can currently be imposed by the Courts. It is envisaged that the new fines will range from $500,000 to $ 3 million for a body corporate, and range from $100,000 to $600,000 for an individual. Further, the new legislation will provide for imprisonment of up to five years for individuals that are reckless.

Worksafe is also expected to enter into a new partnership with ACC. This co-operation will result in discounts on ACC levies for those businesses participating in voluntary incentive programmes.

Employers will be wise to keep updated on these changes as they evolve.

If you have any employment or HR queries that you would like assistance with, please contact us.

This article is intended as a point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this article.

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