Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


UC research into health and safety in employment legislation

UC research into health and safety in employment legislation

November 26, 2012

A team of University of Canterbury researchers are investigating the size of sentencing fines in the cases against employers of injured or killed workers.

The ultimate goal of health and safety in employment legislation is to prevent employment-related accidents by financially punishing employers of injured or killed workers, UC economics and finance researcher Dr Andrea Menclova said today.

In December 2008, the Department of Labour - now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MOBIE) - took an appeal to the High Court for three cases.

They argued that the fines imposed by the District Court were inadequate and did not reflect the five-fold increase in the maximum fine that Parliament had written into the legislation.

``Our research indicates that the cases used in the appeal were largely representative of District Court health and safety in employment sentencing of that time and that the then Department of Labour had been trying to create a precedent for large increases in fines in HSE sentencing in general.

``Following the High Court appeal, the average level of fines indeed increased substantially and employer’s culpability became a key determinant. In particular, our empirical research indicates that the average fine has risen from $13,000 to $33,000 and while medium to high culpability increased fines by about $20,000 prior to the appeal, it now increases them by over $30,000.

``The degree of harm suffered by the employee is not nearly as significant when determining the level of fines but continues to be very important when determining reparations. For example, an employee’s death does not seem to affect the level of fines but it increases reparations by about $20,000.

``Interestingly, however, the mean level of reparations has not increased as much as fines following the appeal and even the penalty for fatal harm has remained relatively constant (or possibly even decreased slightly), mitigating the impact of the legislation on total financial liability (fines and reparations combined).

``In addition, employers continue to receive sizeable discounts for financial limitations and these have increased over time. Prior to the appeal, an employer’s financial limitations reduced total financial liability by around $12,000 and this has now risen to $19,000. It will be interesting to see whether the Department of Labour considers the new sentencing practice adequate or whether further increases in HSE fines will be called for.’’

The UC research team including of Alan Woodfield, Stephen Hickson and Dr Menclova have manually coded 2438 health and safety charges from March 1994 to April 2012. They are still adding recent cases. The raw data comes from a comprehensive (MOBIE) database of successful prosecutions and is based on documents produced directly at court (case decisions, sentencing notes, returns on prosecutions, and summaries of facts).

For each case, they have coded information on: degree of employer's culpability, degree of harm resulting, employer’s safety record, the presence of employer's financial limitations, remorse, cooperation with the authorities, remedial action, guilty plea, the need for general and particular deterrence (as viewed by the judge), employer size, the presence of voluntary payment by the employer, attendance at a restorative justice conference, employee culpability, and the number of victims and related defendants.

Christchurch lawyer Nigel Hampton QC said the research was fascinating and very useful.

``I can see it being cited, both by prosecuting and defence lawyers, during argument/submissions as to size of fine and of reparations in health and safety employment prosecutions.

``And it may well result in MOBIE calling for an upping of the sentencing tariff generally, again and seeking amendments to the sentencing limits in the health and safety in employment legislation, by further raising the maximum financial penalties able to be imposed.

``All in all this UC research is a very useful piece of work. It will be helpful for both lawyers and judges as a sentencing tool,’’ he said.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Team Behind Trump's Throne

Forget the Putin factor. Daily, the team of charlatans, bigots and stunningly ignorant crackpots that Trump is appointing to head key federal agencies is just as alarming. These are positions with vast power and budgetary discretion over policies that stand to affect tens of millions of vulnerable Americans. Sad! More>>

 

Gordon Campbell: On Bill English, Abroad

If David Cameron was the closest thing John Key had to a political mentor, their successors also share a whole lot in common. Theresa May and Bill English were both propelled into the top jobs as the result of unexpected resignations, and without much in the way of credible competition from their colleagues... More>>

ALSO:

Pike River: Labour Bill To Override Safety Act For Mine Entry

“Bill English has been hiding behind the legal excuse that any attempt to re-enter the mine to recover the bodies might place the mine’s owner, Solid Energy Limited, and its directors in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Populism And Labour 2017

For many people on the centre-left, populism is a dirty word, and a shorthand for the politics of bigotry. In this country, it has tended to be equated with the angry legions of New Zealand First. Who knew they were not just a reactionary spasm, but the wave of the future? More>>

Oxfam: 30% Of NZ Owns Less Wealth Than Our Two Richest Men

The research also reveals that the richest one per cent have 20 per cent of the wealth in New Zealand, while 90 per cent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth. The research forms part of a global report released to coincide with this week’s annual meeting of political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. More>>

ALSO:

Hospitals: Resident Doctors Set To Strike Again

Despite discussions between the DHBs and NZRDA over safer hours for resident doctors progressing during the last week, the strike planned for next week appears set to proceed. More>>

ALSO:

Not So Super Fund: More Burning Ethical Questions For Steven Joyce

Greens: Radio New Zealand reported this morning that the New Zealand Superfund has $77 million invested in 47 coal companies that the Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund – the largest sovereign fund in the world – has blacklisted. More>>

Activism: Greenpeace Intercepts World’s Biggest Seismic Oil Ship

Greenpeace crew have made contact with the world’s biggest seismic oil ship after travelling 50 nautical miles on two rigid-hulled inflatables off the coast of Wairarapa... Greenpeace radioed the master of the Amazon Warrior to deliver an open letter of protest signed by over 60,000 New Zealanders. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Why Tax Cuts In 2017 Would Be A (Proven) Bad Idea

Ever since the world fell prey to the mullahs of the free market in the 1980s, no amount of real world evidence has managed dispel one key tenet of their economic faith. Namely, the idea that if you cut income taxes and taxes on small business, a wave of individual enterprise and entrepreneurial energy will thus be unleashed, profits will rise and – hey bingo! – the tax cuts will soon be paying for themselves ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news