In addition to new obligations and duties there are also repercussions if there are breaches of the new obligations in the form of offences and penalties.
Offences and Penalties
The penalties under the new Act have increased significantly. There is now a three tier system for penalties following an established breach:
- offences of reckless conduct, where a person under a health and safety duty without reasonable excuse engages in conduct that exposes any individual to whom a health and safety duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness;
- a person committing an offence of reckless conduct will be liable on conviction up to $300,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years for an individual, or up to $600,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years for a PCBU or an Officer;
- offence of failing to comply with health and safety duty that exposes an individual to the risk of death or serious injury or illness;
- a person committing this offence will be liable on conviction up to $150,000 for an individual, or up to $300,000 for a PCBU or an Officer;
- offence of failing to comply with health and safety duty;
- a person committing this offence will be liable on conviction up to $50,000 for an individual, or up to $100,000 for a PCBU or an Officer.
Not only are there financial penalties but the Act provides for new orders which may be imposed at sentencing, such as:
- adverse publicity orders, requiring the offender to publicise in a particular manner the offence, its consequences, and the penalty imposed;
- restoration orders, requiring an offender to take specified steps to remedy any matter caused by the offence;
- project orders, requiring an offender to undertake a specific project for the general improvement of work health and safety; and
- court-ordered enforceable undertakings, adjourning the proceeding for up to two years, during which the offender undertakes to comply with certain conditions.
Proceedings for offences under the Act may be bought by WorkSafe NZ (or other designated authority) within 12 months of the date of the incident to which the offence relates, or within 6 months of a coronial report.
However, private prosecutions bought by a person other than WorkSafe NZ may be bought within 2 years after the incident to which the offence relates.