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Construction Safety Law

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posted on 2021-11-12, 13:43 authored by Cornish, James William

The development of industrial safety law in Britain and New Zealand and the origins of construction, safety law are outlined in Part I. The administration and interpretation of the Construction Act 1959 are described in Part II, and Part III highlights the comparable statute law in three Commonwealth countries. The thesis will assist persons engaged in industry, lawyers and departmental officers in the understanding of the law and its application to construction work. The information presented on overseas law will assist those involved in the task of reviewing and consolidating the New Zealand industrial safety, health and welfare legislation. The history of the British Factories Acts leading on to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, described in Chapter 1, highlights the importance of a self-regulating, integrated statutory system and a professional inspectorate with an advisory role and residual enforcement powers. New Zealand safety law has developed as the country's industrial needs have determined, as will be seen from Chapter 2. Generally, British statutes have been adopted, but construction safety law is the exception and Chapter 3 shows that, from the earliest Bill introduced by Richard John Seddon in 1892 up to the present, the legislation covering the construction industry has been initiated and drafted with industry representation. The more empirical subjects such as current policy and practice, sanctions, codes, education, other legislation and reform, as well as the purpose, effect, extent and application of the Construction Act 1959 are discussed in Chapter 4. The results of the author's legal research and analysis are contained in Chapters 5 and 6 under the headings of 'Liabilities' and 'Technical Law'. The responsibilities of employers, workmen, safety supervisors, inspectors and the Crown are set out and explained in terms of the statute and the interpretation from the case law. The technical subjects include scaffolding, guardrails, brittle roofing, fall of objects, access, excavations, mechanical plant, demolition, eye protection, asbestos, work in compressed air, health and welfare. Chapters 7, 8 and 9 examine the present legislation, in Britain, Australia and Canada and indicate a trend towards a unified approach to occupational safety, health and welfare and one enactment for all places of work, and with separate regulations and codes of practice for each industry. This study has been carried out by the present Chief Safety Engineer of the Department of Labour who has been responsible for the administration of the Construction Act 1959 since 1968. A separately bound appendix includes a copy of the Construction Act 1959 and the Amendments (Appendix A), the Inspection of Building Appliances Bill 1892 (Appendix B), the Scaffolding Inspection Act 1906 (Appendix C), the Tasmanian Industrial Safety, Health and Welfare Act 1977 (Appendix D), the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act 1978 (Appendix E), and copies of the unreported judgments and decisions referred to in the thesis (Appendix F).


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Law

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


D. L., Mathieson