What impact would a $ 250,000 fine have on your business?
$ 43,800 was the average imposed fine for offences against NZ Health & Safety legislation resulting from completed WorkSafe New Zealand prosecutions in the three-month period from June, 1st to August, 31st 2016. This is the most current information made available by WorkSafe NZ. It is the regulatory authorities publishing policy not to release details until conclusion of a prosecution and not before the statutory timeframe for bringing an appeal has expired.
What this means is, that so far none of the published prosecution outcomes relate to offences against the new Health and Safety at Work (HSAW) Act, but to offences committed under the revoked Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992.
The maximum fine available under the HSE Act was $500,000, now it is $3,000,000. Will we see a similar increase in the imposed fines once the courts have to decide over offences against the new HSAW Act? This would mean average fines in the range of $250,000. We will not know before mid-2017, as the timeframe from offence to completed prosecution is currently at least 12 months, depending on the case. We can expect the first court decisions by May 2017.
A $40,000 fine already has the potential to bankrupt a small business, but what if a small business owner would have to face a quarter million dollar fine? Let’s be clear, no one HAS to face a fine. There is a simple solution: Comply with current legislation, don’t commit an offence. Is it that simple? Maybe not, in particular for small and medium sized businesses which cannot afford to employ a H&S Advisor. The legislation and related regulations are complex and there is a chance of committing an offence just by being unaware of your duties.
Investing in an external H&S Consultant is a good way to solve the dilemma and to reduce the risk of non-compliance. For an assessment of your businesses’ compliance level, advice for required improvements or complete set-ups of compliant H&S Management Systems/Practices, contact WORKSAFE SMART today. Phone 021 2077286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can ensure that your business does not have to face devastating fines.
Andreas Gabriel, Dip OHS
Worksafe Smart, Health and Safety Consultant for the Nelson, Richmond and Blenheim region. Health and Safety policies, manuals, management plans, training, reviews, audits, advice and more.