Health and safety in the workplace has been brought into the spotlight over the past decade to refocus employers’ attention to ensure the safety of their staff. There have been a number of judgments under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, of which two stand out.
August 2017 saw the Budget Plastics case which clearly showed employers how the Health and Safety at Work Act would be applied by the courts, and the consequence of non-compliance.
In October there was another decision where an employee suffered serious injuries after falling through a false ceiling. The court noted that the hazard was obvious and was ‘easily and cheaply remedied’. Rangiora Carpets Limited received a discount on its fines for its previous good record and guilty plea; the final amounts payable were a $157,500 fine (to be paid over two years), $20,000 for reparation and $1,228 for costs.
These cases show that the courts are not afraid to impose hefty fines where they are satisfied that the Health and Safety at Work Act has been breached.
Hazardous substances in the workplace: On 1 December 2017 the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations came into effect. The regulations contain rules around managing substances that affect human health and safety in the workplace. Go here for more information.