Occupational health and safety cases in the New Zealand District Court
Occupational health and safety (OHS) practitioners need to understand prosecutions that have been before the District Court if they are to provide informed guidance about compliance with the New Zealand (NZ) Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) to “persons having control of a business or undertaking” (PCBUs). However, if they cannot access academic databases, they may need to rely on individual reports of a few cases but may not have the time or resources to develop their own database. Those who are studying for a tertiary level qualification may also lack the time to find and catalogue more than a few cases.
This short article reports on the first stage of the development and analysis of a dataset of prosecutions under NZ OHS legislation. We describe our data sources and a high-level analysis of the dataset and issues to be resolved before proceeding with further data analysis. This work also forms part of research into “grey literature” and its use in practice by OHS practitioners and professionals.
We conclude by showing the disparity between prosecutions and deaths due to occupational disease and trauma (leading to an area for further research) and loop back to one of the origins for this research: the meaning of a safe system of work.
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