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WorkSafe and Enforceable Undertakings

Published 05 Aug 2018

An enforceable undertaking is where a duty holder (usually a Company) is found (or alleged) to be in breach of the Health & Safety at Work 2015 Act (HSWA) and accepts to follow a prescribed path to remedy the problems according to WorkSafe's guidance. It is voluntary on the part of the duty holder, but once accepted it is legally binding and enforceable.

Enforceable undertakings are an alternative to a straight prosecution by WorkSafe. It has to be requested by the duty holder rather than suggested by WorkSafe and it doesn't always mean it's a easy or cheap option for the business.

Some of the actions covered by an undertaking are:

  • Remedy the harm to any victims
  • Support progressive and higher standards of Health & Safety for all stakeholders of the duty holder
  • Support WorkSafe to meet their strategic goals

It is always at WorkSafe's sole discretion whether or not to accept an enforceable undertaking as a solution to a breach (or alleged breach).

As an example of this WorkSafe have just accepted an enforceable undertaking from Woods Glass based in Auckland.

A worker climbed onto a glass cutting machine to free a blockage, once cleared the machine continued operation and dragged the worker's leg in causing serious injuries.

The subsequent WorkSafe investigation found Woods Glass had failed to honour its health and safety obligations under HSWA and including a lack of safe procedures and guarding for the machine.

The following enforceable undertaking was then agreed to by WorkSafe, Woods Glass and the victim:

  • Providing amends in the form of payment to the victim and support to the victim.
  • Developing a suite of initiatives to benefit the workplace and workers.
  • Hosting workshops for Lisec cutting machine operators within the glass industry.
  • Presenting and sponsoring a session at the Windows Association of New Zealand and Glass Association New Zealand annual conferences.
  • Providing specialised training courses in conjunction with the Glass & Glazing Institute NZ.
  • Producing community resources on health, safety, wellbeing, inclusion, and diversity.
  • Offering a scholarship for a trade qualification at the Mount Albert Unitech Institute of Technology.
  • Sponsoring Community Alcohol & Other Drug Services in the South Auckland community for language interpretation services.