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WORKSAFE ISSUES

  These pages are devoted to publicising important compliance issues which we are confident that WorkSafe has got wrong. The Regulations are designed to protect workers and we are greatly concerned that WorkSafe is watering down key issues and acting contrary to its legislative function “to promote and contribute to a balanced framework for securing the health and safety of workers and workplaces.”

2024

LPG:

An astonishing example of widespread failure with compliance generally by WorkSafe and many market participants. The LPG industry is only one example of widespread failure, and this is why NZ generally needs to be alerted and act as if concerned.

WorkSafe’s decade of failure is due to its poor execution

In its first decade, WorkSafe NZ has failed.  Per capita workplace injury rates are 2x Australia’s. The cost of this gap has been estimated at $1 billion annually.  Māori injury rates are 31% worse than for others.  750-900 workers die annually from diseases caused by exposure to toxins in workplaces.  This chapter sets the scene for the following articles that will show how poor WorkSafe’s execution continues to be.

Why not, Steve Haszard? Why Steve Haszard?

Steve Haszard was ushered into the role as CEO of WorkSafe “at speed” around Labour Day and just made it past Easter before he quit – about four active months. It is rare for one CEO to announce his unplanned resignation almost contemporaneously with the appointment of his successor, so we can assume the Board was the actor in the room and carefully chose the successor.  What was described as an 18-month appointment was recast after Easter as mission accomplished within a handful of months. Believe that if you will.

We saw nothing to suggest improvement at WorkSafe in Haszard’s four working months in the role. In fact, we see the Inspectorate even more poorly trained and poorly equipped to do a job that they most certainly can’t in our specialist area. The feedback from one of NZ’s major industrial companies did floor us though. Steve Haszard was invited to address all the health and safety managers throughout the behemoth’s many business units. One meeting – a golden opportunity to get key messages across – and impact thousands of workers.  An opportunity to remind key executives that the onus rests squarely with the PCBUs to mitigate health and safety risks in their businesses, that there are penalties for failures and prosecutions when failures lead to harm. An opportunity to wake NZ out of its sleepy malaise that is causative of the country’s deplorable health and safety record. An opportunity to quote from the compelling logic of Judge Thomas. Not hard surely? Something surely?

What were we told Haszard did with that invitation? He declined.

If we decline, we fail.

The country needs leadership in person, not an office warrior in shiny leather shoes.

The white knight that the Board thought it had in Haszard hung up his sword even before he dared to swing it. The lion had become the meek mouse, now scuttling away through a hole in the siding.

The Board’s perspective is that Haszard has developed a great strategy for WorkSafe to follow. Imagine if Buck Shelford had told his fellow All Blacks that he was not up for the match ahead, but he had a great game plan. Buck was the opposite of that; a leader of men, a role model.

If Haszard has steel cap boots, they will still be as shiny as his boardroom shoes. The blemishes are not on the boots.

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To sue, or not to sue...

Can you sue your compliance certifier? 

Probably not. 

Should I worry about my AS 1940 cabinet?  Absolutely yes!

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Alas Smith & Nicholls

WorkSafe has a serious case to answer in relation to the conduct of its Regulatory Assurance Group.  Persons affected should email the CEO at steve.haszard@worksafe.govt.nz to tell your individual stories and demand accountability from top to bottom.

WorkSafe’s 10 year report card

A tragedy in terms of profound failure

Dear Minister van Velden

We share our letter to the incoming Minister which emphasises the need for change at WorkSafe and the billion dollar prize that success in this endeavour can bring.

The appalling data on compliance certifiers and a deficient administrator

The 100% failure rates of certifiers in the data sets included in this letter align with the morbid assessment of the industry by HASANZ in 2019 and acknowledged by WorkSafe’s prior CEO in 2022.  WorkSafe’s failure to adequately perform its statutory functions in this area are aligned with the “spectacular failures” identified by Judge Evangelos Thomas and other commentators.

The perpetual circle of failure that
WorkSafe is perpetuating

The perpetual circle of failure that WorkSafe is perpetuating. This will be the first of at least three letters which show that it is partly WorkSafe’s failure to perform its obligations under the law that is perpetuating the systemic non-compliance in relation to the hazardous substances’ regime. The underlying deficiencies in the abilities and performance of many certifiers are not new, yet they have not been dealt with by WorkSafe. That the issues are allowed to persist points to one of the many weaknesses inside WorkSafe. Absent change, NZ is priming itself for the next catastrophe (to go with the weekly problems) when the recurring question of “why was the administrator so ineffective” will be asked all over again. Yogi Berra: “its déjà vu all over again.” 

2023

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Complaint #37998 reveals three major faults and four minor faults.

Systemic delinquency 
& supervisory failures

These letters contain proof of systemic delinquency by compliance certifiers and extensive supervisory failures by WorkSafe in relation to performance of their respective roles in the hazardous substances’ compliance regime.

 

The risk of catastrophic failure is being fueled, not averted, by these failures and then accentuated by the neglect of PCBUs. Innocent workers continue to be recklessly exposed to toxins and other risks of harm at work. We explain why action must be taken.

Why Minister Wood must go
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There are two serious conflict stories in the news currently – one involving a dreadful breach of conflict by a major accounting firm (for commercial gain) in Australia, the other is Minister Wood’s failure twelve times over to deal with his airport shares. He cannot credibly remain as Minister of WorkSafe for many reasons. WorkSafe oversees compliance certifiers who are subject to strict conflict rules (which ostensibly at least WorkSafe polices). It surely cannot be an adequate response from a certifier to claim that 12 breaches by her were accidental, yet it would not be unreasonable for her to question why there is a double standard at WorkSafe – one for the Minister, one for everyone else. This is the other side of the sword. He has to go voluntarily or by demotion. The second reason is that WorkSafe continues to drift like a rudderless yacht and he is ultimately responsible for it. WorkSafe’s rhetoric is puffery, its strategic direction has been questioned, its productivity statistics are dreadful and NZ’s safety statistics are not improving. Let’s hope Wood’s near-term replacement can provide some true leadership and work through the failing elements from the top down.

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Genesis’ hazardous area proposal

In this open letter to Genesis and WorkSafe, we explain the many issues with what Genesis has presented to certifiers as a fait accompli.  How and why WorkSafe has followed such a poor process, came up with the wrong answer and did not consult industry needs to be explained. DGC will not be following the Genesis directive and nor should others.

This letter to a shocked parent explains one of the astonishing ways that WorkSafe is failing. 

When it’s personal, it always matters more. The data presented in the letter are very real and seem to alarm everyone except….WorkSafe.

Class 6 and 8 substances – the most toxic and hazardous substances around. 
Is WorkSafe right or wrong?

 

On 8 February, we alerted WorkSafe that its key 2019 policy document in relation to classes 6&8 may be wrong. The policy impacts thousands of sites. Industry and certifiers deserve to know whether WorkSafe’s policy is right or wrong. A formal response is needed urgently from WorkSafe – its explanation to date has been deficient.

 

This comes on the back of a policy document released in 2022 in relation to which we argued WorkSafe had completely distorted the application of a basic and critical concept – that of a “protected place” – apparently to help out PCBUs not compliant with the locations of class 6&8 tanks inside factories. That specious policy statement was quietly removed from its website soon after we published our explanation of how the rules work. No public explanation was ever provided – we can assume WorkSafe recognised its error but what steps has it taken to require PCBUs to comply, remembering that the underlying issue is the location of tanks with the most hazardous substances inside factories?

 

When WorkSafe or duty holders get legal requirements wrong, the mistakes must be corrected. The mounting issues raise serious concerns about the lack of skills at the regulator and how it is detracting from the safety regime as a consequence of publishing incorrect policies.

Analysis of the Performance of WorkSafe’s Regulatory Assurance Group

 

Abject failures by WorkSafe over a long period are contributing to their failure to perform the essential supervisory role that it must perform.

2022

DGC response to the SageBush report

 

DGC supplements the SageBush report to explain how and why WorkSafe is failing.

AS 1940 death traps

WorkSafe is not acting as a prudent and responsible regulator tasked with addressing the very high non-compliance with cabinets used to store flammable liquids at many workplaces.

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interaction in class

WorkSafe and 11.33

Serious questions arise from WorkSafe’s failures in relation to regulation 11.33

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Certifier notifications
data are a disgrace

An open letter to Ross Wilson, Chair of WorkSafe.

Business Meeting 2

WorkSafe must improve

We argue WorkSafe is contributing to NZ’s deteriorating workplace injury statistics and must improve.

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Large retail shops

WorkSafe is wrong in relation to compliance requirements for large retail shops (11.33). 

Children Reading the Holy Bible

Protected Places

WorkSafe is wrong about when workers are not required to be protected through “protected places” and separation distances in the workplace.

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