WorkSafe’s acceptance of an enforceable undertaking from the St Kentigern Trust Board opens a new chapter in New Zealand’s health and safety regime.
It represents the first use of a new tool provided under the Health and Safety at Work Act and could become an important instrument in developing a stronger health and safety culture in New Zealand.
An enforceable undertaking is a legally binding agreement that can be provided as an alternative to prosecution. It commits the entity in question to undertake a number of corrective measures to prevent a recurrence of the accident or injury and can also deliver a broader, societal good as WorkSafe’s intention is that the benefits should extend “to the works or workplace, the wider industry or sector and/or the community”.
Giving an enforceable undertaking does not require or amount to an admission of guilt in relation to the contravention, making it available for application in cases which might not succeed at court and also making it an attractive option for entities which come within WorkSafe’s scrutiny.
It is a useful addition to our health and safety law so it is good to see.