Publishing policy

The purpose of our Prosecution Publishing policy is to provide transparency and certainty as to the approach that WorkSafe New Zealand will take to the publication of information about prosecutions.

Prosecution outcomes

WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe) publishes information about its prosecutions.

Publishing prosecution related information encourages compliance with New Zealand’s health and safety (and other) laws by:

  • Deterrence, through educating the community and industries about the consequences of non-compliance
  • Identifying the need for real and sustainable improvement in safety practices in New Zealand workplaces to reduce the toll from work-related death, injury and illness
  • Increasing awareness of the need to protect individuals, families and the community from deaths, injuries and property loss caused by workplace incidents, hazardous substances, gas and electricity.
  • Providing information about how to prevent similar breaches.

Publishing principles

We endeavour to ensure that all published information is accurate, impartial and balanced, and encourages compliance with New Zealand’s health and safety laws. Information published will be in accordance with the Crown Law Media Protocol for Prosecutors.

We draw public and media attention to factual information about charges which have been filed in courts, but take great care to avoid any publicity which could prejudice a fair trial.

We strive to ensure the information we publish is not defamatory, does not violate the rules and conventions relating to sub judice (cases that are still being considered or are before the courts), the rules relating to name suppression or publication that in any other way prejudices the fair hearing or objectivity required in such matters.

Publishing methods

We publicise prosecution-related information via:

  • our website
  • media statements (we issue media releases and respond to media enquiries, including on occasion granting media interviews to print, broadcast and use online media outlets)
  • conferences and public forums (our representatives participate in public forums, such as safety conferences, and disseminate information and statistics on prosecutions)
  • publications
  • legal databases
  • research

Approach to public comment and publishing of information

Investigations

If requested, we will confirm the start of an investigation. This is to clarify factual and procedural matters and to avoid speculation in the media.

Generally, we will not comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation.

To protect the privacy of workers involved in workplace incidents, no personal identifying information of those involved is released publicly except as part of a legal proceeding or to the extent already in the public domain.

Comment on court proceedings prior to their resolution will only be made in relation to particular steps in the court process.

We may also, as deemed appropriate, publish relevant information such as industry alerts on urgent safety issues.

Prosecution and trial

Information we release in relation to the filing of charges, the progress of prosecution proceedings, or trial may occur proactively or in response to a media inquiry. We may also issue a media release and post information to our website. Information issued is confined to stating facts only.

Information identifying the defendant(s) will generally not be published prior to the date of the first court appearance. This is to allow any application for name suppression to be made. Any description of the incident will be neutral, factual and brief. No comment will be made regarding alleged culpable conduct or the likely outcome of proceedings.

Upon conclusion of the prosecution

Penalties imposed

The laws which WorkSafe is responsible for enforcing give the courts considerable scope to punish offenders and to deter others. Sentences ranging from fines to terms of imprisonment are available to the courts, depending on the particular offence. We publish the maximum penalties available under the:

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015(external link)

Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992(external link)

Electricity Act 1992(external link)

Gas Act 1992(external link)

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996(external link)

WorkSafe reserves the right to comment on penalties imposed in specific cases, although recognises that it is for the courts to decide what penalty, if any, to impose. WorkSafe will, in addition, continue seeking to raise the courts’ awareness of the gravity of the offences for which it prosecutes and of the full extent of their sentencing powers.

Public register of prosecutions

Details of the outcome of all WorkSafe prosecutions will be published on our website. WorkSafe will publish new prosecution information on a monthly basis.

Information published on the website will be accessible to everyone. It will serve as a resource which duty holders may check when researching the health and safety interaction history of a party they are dealing with. Information published may also identify how to improve systems and work practices to prevent similar breaches.

What information is published on the register and for how long?

We prosecute companies and individuals for breaches of laws which WorkSafe is responsible for enforcing. Identifying details of all defendants against whom prosecution action has been taken will be added to the register, subject to any orders from the Court regarding suppression. This information will be added at the conclusion of the prosecution, after the statutory timeframe for bringing an appeal has expired.

Cases will appear on the website for five years after which they will be anonymised.

What information is not published on the register?

Information that will not be published in the register includes information about:

  • Breaches which did not lead to a court case and were dealt with using other enforcement options, including infringement, improvement and prohibition notices. WorkSafe however reserves the right to publish such information where it is considered to be in the public interest
  • Cases which are within the timeframe for an appeal.

What happens when a case is under appeal?

Where WorkSafe has received official written notification of an appeal having been lodged, information regarding the decision under appeal will not be added to the register.

Where a conviction is quashed on appeal, the information added to the register will reflect this.

Where a sentence is altered or substituted on appeal, information regarding the prosecution and the details of the new sentence will be added to the register, subject to any further appeals being brought.

Complaints about published information

WorkSafe has a feedback and complaints policy in place to ensure that complaints are addressed appropriately. The policy aims to promote public and stakeholder confidence in the quality of WorkSafe’s people, policies and services.

Privacy

Where prosecution information contains personal information, any publication will occur in accordance with the Privacy Act.

View the full Privacy Act 1993(external link).