How Much Will A Workplace Health And Safety Fine Cost?
A recent High Court appeal in New Zealand has significantly increased the workplace health and safety fines. Now the fines have increased with a low culpability fine starting at $50,000, which is 10x greater than what they used to be. What does that mean for a business owner?
The easiest way to avoid a fine is to not allow an accident to occur. While this may not appear to be very helpful advice, it is the very attitude and energy required that will either prevent the accident, or provide significant mitigation when the Judge is considering the level of fine.
As a business owner or manager, you will be aware that you must report any accidents that significantly hurts an employee (‘Serious Harm’). The term ‘Serious Harm’ has a legal definition, but use your gut; what do you think is a bad accident. If you are unsure, simple call the DoL for their advice.
If, despite all your workplace health and safety initiatives the accident does occur, then it is best to be prepared for a possible investigation. The following overseas guides show the level required: an OSHA guide or from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 5 tips to consider.
The Judge will look at your systems to set the level of fine. If you have a workplace health and safety system in place then this will feature in the setting of the fine. Of course, the fine is really the last rung on the ladder – the true cost to your business if prosecuted will be felt financially and personally long before any legal decision is made. Do yourself, your business and your employees a big favour and aim to prevent all accidents.