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Proposal to change definition of serious harm

Published 01 Feb 2010

Source - Scoop
Thursday, 3 December 2009, 1:48 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon Kate Wilkinsonate Wilkinson has announced a prMinister of Labour

3 December 2009
Media Statement

Proposal to change definition of serious harm

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson has announced a proposal to change the definition of ‘serious harm’ under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

Serious harm is a pivotal definition in workplace health and safety legislation. If serious harm occurs, employers or those in control of a workplace are required to immediately notify the Department of Labour, the Civil Aviation Authority or Maritime New Zealand.

Ms Wilkinson says it is important to set the threshold for serious harm at an appropriate level.

The proposed definition will include physical injuries leading to an employee being unable to perform their normal duties for 10 or more calendar days. It will also include any permanent injuries, specified events such as electrocution or loss of consciousness, and diagnosed occupational illnesses.

'This definition provides more certainty and will ensure that employers are not required to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with what can be minor matters.'

'It will also assist the Department of Labour and other enforcement agencies to focus on investigating and preventing the most serious workplace accidents.'

Ms Wilkinson says she will introduce legislation to Parliament in the new year to amend the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The change will be combined with several other proposed changes to the Act. These include:
  • Providing a levy mechanism to enable the Department of Labour to recover the costs of enforcing the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 in workplaces;
  • Requiring businesses to collaborate to meet their duties under the Health and Safety in Employment Act where they share a workplace; and
  • Aligning the rules of self incrimination in the Health and Safety in Employment Act with those in the Evidence Act 2006.