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Health and Safety: Can Employers Insure?

Published 07 Jun 2016

A Wellington builder, ordered to pay more than $60,000 after a workplace accident, has recently appeared in the media warning other Employers that they are "quite vulnerable and, if you have Employees, insure."  This has highlighted the vulnerability of Employers under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the limitation on what insurance is available.

The Act expressly prohibits any insurance which covers an Employer’s liability to pay a fine or penalty under the Act.  However, insurance is still available to cover the legal costs of dealing with a WorkSafe New Zealand investigation and defending a prosecution, and reparation awards to those who are injured. 

There is now an increase in the number of people responsible for health and safety and consequently, vulnerable to prosecution.  Combined with higher penalties, greater emphasis is now placed on Employers to ensure they are aware of their liabilities and have legally enforceable insurance policies.

So while you cannot insure against awards your best defence is to actively engage in a Health & Safety programme to protect your workers and your business.

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