She'll be wrong: Rethinking corporate and officer responsibility under the Health and Safety Reform Bill
New Zealand has a poor health and safety record with alarming rates of workplace injuries and fatalities. The current health and safety regime fails to promote corporate and director responsibility and leaves New Zealand open to potentially catastrophic harm. This was demonstrated in 2010 with the Pike River disaster which revealed an urgent need for reform. This paper analyses the Health and Safety Reform Bill. The Bill represents the most comprehensive overhaul of New Zealand’s health and safety regime in 22 years. The focus in the Bill is no longer on the status of the employment relationship meaning better protection for workers. This paper argues that corporate and officer responsibility is crucial to turning things around. The Bill drives responsibility through the introduction of a proactive due diligence duty on officers and stronger deterrence mechanisms. Placing obligations on officers means those in the best position to monitor and reduce risks have a legal obligation to do so. The Bill targets those who have the ability to initiate change and requires these people to take a proactive approach to managing health and safety. This paper concludes that the Bill represents a positive step forward in New Zealand’s health and safety regime.