The Department uses its enforcement powers when it is unable to get voluntary compliance with the law or the matter is such that a duty-holder needs to be held accountable for failure to meet minimum standards. This covers both the:
- Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act)
- Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act)
Enforcement is used as a complement to other strategies such as engagement, education and enablement. The Strategic Plan sets out the Department’s overall approach to promoting health and safety in workplaces.
The Department’s response to any observed breach of legislation is to choose the enforcement intervention that will best:
- See hazards eliminated, isolated or minimised quickly and effectively; and
- Influence future compliance with the legislation.
HSE Act enforcement interventions include:
- Written warnings by the inspector
- Improvement notices
- Suspension notices
- Prohibition notices
- Revocation of registration, certificated, exemptions and approvals
- Application for a compliance order from the Employment Relations Authority
- Infringement notices
The Blue Guide has further information on these interventions.
HSNO Act enforcement interventions include:
- Infringement notices
- Compliance orders
The chosen enforcement intervention depends on:
- The seriousness of the non-compliance
- Continued or repeated non-compliance
- Refusal to take remedial action
- The harm or potential harm to those affected by the non-compliance.
Court proceedings are considered where a breach has been identified, there is evidence to sustain a prosecution, and where:
- Compliance cannot be gained otherwise; or
- There has been deliberate or careless disregard for the safety and health of others;
- There has been deliberate attempt to obtain economic advantage through failure to comply; or
- The public interest requires a prosecution.
A prosecution may be in the public interest if it:
- Ensures public accountability; and/or
- Publicises a problem of more general interest; and/or
- Ensures the offender recognises (and pays for) the seriousness of the matter.
To sustain a prosecution, sufficient evidence must be available to support every element of the proposed charge.
Statistics on prosecutions taken by the Department.