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Forum says CEOs may not avoid prosecutions in future

Leaders’ Forum says CEOs may not avoid prosecutions in future

12 December, 2013

Chief executives and board directors may be less likely to avoid prosecution on health and safety charges in future, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

Commenting on news that charges have been withdrawn against former Pike River Chief Executive Peter Whittall, Forum Executive Director Julian Hughes said proposed new legislation was likely to make business leaders more accountable for workplace health and safety.

“Once this legislation is passed the regulator may find it easier to hold chief executives, directors and other business leaders to account if they fail to keep their workers safe,” Mr Hughes said.

The legislation, currently being drafted, is expected to clarify duties and increase penalties.

Mr Hughes noted that the health and safety landscape is changing fast in New Zealand, and on Monday a standalone regulator, WorkSafe NZ, will open for business.

Good regulation and a well-resourced regulator are important, he said. “But what’s more important is that the people who own and run our businesses step up and make a personal commitment to lead safety improvements in their workplace and contracting chains.”

The planned improvements in health and safety regulation may be cold comfort to those who lost loved ones at Pike, he said. “But the legacy of this tragedy will be a completely new approach to how health and safety is regulated in New Zealand, and this will improve working conditions for New Zealand workers in the future.”

ends

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