What is an Enforceable Undertaking? - Hasmate
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What is an Enforceable Undertaking?

What is an Enforceable Undertaking?

“Paul Callaghan: Dancing with Atoms” – a documentary shown in 2018 at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland – is a presentation to tribute the visionary scientist Sir Paul Callaghan, who passed away in 2012. He was a great New Zealander who left a legacy to New Zealand, science, and to the human ideal of progress, with futuristic thinking for our environment, for the future of New Zealand and humanity.

One of his challenges to all New Zealanders was to think differently, to challenge the status quo and that mediocrity. Mediocrity should never be accepted – there must be a smarter, better and more effective method to do things to make a difference.

Is this not the challenge that faces us all in business?

In business (especially in health and safety), there are always better ways to improve the status quo – but if a company gets it wrong, it can be expensive, not only in the financial sense, but also in the human cost. Greater responsibility for health and safety has now been imposed upon New Zealand businesses with the advent of the new health and safety laws and regulations, that has now forced directors and business owners to take a real hard look at the way they manage this subject.

Should health and safety just be about being compliant, or should it be about making a difference?

If you believe in the latter and you constantly challenge the status quo to be smarter and explore ways to do things differently for the protection of your employees and yourself, then it’s a win-win for everyone, as well as the investment in the business.

We are now reading and hearing of more businesses facing the courts and the mind-boggling fines, but one subject that is now very much at the fore is that of “Enforceable Undertakings“. So, what is this new concept and how could it impact on a business? If you have heard of it and you believe it’s a softer option to a prosecution, then I suggest you think again.

What is an enforceable undertaking?

(Taken from WorkSafe)

“An enforceable undertaking is an agreement between WorkSafe and a duty holder made under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). It is entered into voluntarily by the duty holder following a breach (including an alleged breach) of HSWA and, once in place, is legally binding. It is generally used as an alternative to prosecution.

An enforceable undertaking should not be viewed as an easy option. The agreement details actions the duty holder (PCBU) will undertake to respond to the contravention. These actions are expected to:

  • support progressively higher standards of work health and safety for the benefit of the:
    • workers and/or work and/or workplace
    • wider industry or sector, and
    • community
  • remedy the harm caused to any victim(s), and
  • support us (WorkSafe) to meet our strategic priorities.

We (WorkSafe) do not impose an enforceable undertaking on a duty holder and will not offer it. If a duty holder would like us to consider an enforceable undertaking, they must first express an interest to us (WorkSafe).”

This may sound like an easy option, but when a business considers all the time and cost associated with this option, and not counting business reputation or position, then it’s not a cheap or easy fix.

To illustrate how this has impacted on two businesses working on the same site, check out this article – could this happen to your business or the company that employs you?

If you require any additional information, contact Hasmate today.