WorkSafe’s decision not to formally investigate an incident

Requests for reasons
Legislation:
Ombudsmen Act 1975
Agency:
WorkSafe New Zealand
Ombudsman:
Peter Boshier
Case number(s):
505641
Issue date:
Format:
PDF,
Word
Language:
English

Complaint about WorkSafe’s decision not to investigate and lay charges following an accident causing injury – failure to consider all relevant information – failure to engage meaningfully with the complainant – no evidence that documents had been falsified by WorkSafe

Outcome

The Chief Ombudsman recommended that WorkSafe apologise to the complainant for:

  • not properly considering (and responding to) the updated information on his injury and his concerns; and
  • failing to engage with him in a meaningful way.

The Chief Ombudsman did not recommend that WorkSafe reconsider its decision not to investigate because the 12 month statutory limit for laying charges had elapsed.[1] While WorkSafe had the ability to apply to the courts for an extension of time, any such application must have been made before the end of that 12-month period.[2] By the time the Chief Ombudsman received the complaint, the 12-month period had expired.

WorkSafe accepted the recommendation. It also advised that it was willing to meet with the complainant – to offer an apology, answer his questions and to hear how it could have done better to engage him during the process.

The Chief Ombudsman considered the offer of a meeting to be a positive step.

WorkSafe has apologised to the complainant in writing. It has also made a standing offer to meet with him.

Disclaimer

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

 

[1]     Section 146(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 states that prosecutions can only be brought ‘within 12 months after the date on which the incident, situation, or set of circumstances to which the offence relates first became known, or ought reasonably to have become known, to the regulator’.

[2]     Section 147 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The court is not bound to grant an extension – the application can be declined if the criteria in section 147(3) are not satisfied.

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