Not all injuries end with a prosecution

13 Dec 2019

Woods Glass

An Enforceable Undertaking is one way to avoid a WorkSafe prosecution after a work accident, but it isn’t an easy option.

While a firm can avoid prosecution by opting for an EU, there is plenty of work to do. It must support the worker, fix safety issues in its own operations and promote safety to the industry.

A recent example of how it works is Woods Glass, which has just gone through an EU that took two years.

The company says it was hard work, but it was worth it.

The initial incident was an injury to one of its factory workers in Auckland in 2017. He was working on a Lisec laminated glass cutting machine when the machine jammed. He  went it to clear it, standing on a piece of the machinery, but when the jam was cleared the machine automatically restarted and crushed his leg, causing a compound dislocation of his ankle. He had two operations, was in hospital for two weeks and had 15 weeks of rehab.

Woods Glass asked for an Enforceable Undertaking as a way of fixing safety issues at the firm. But before applying for it the company talked it over with the injured worker. They  supported the idea and made his own suggestions for improving health and safety at the firm.

Not all injury accidents qualify for an EU and a company must apply for one, WorkSafe will not offer it. And it is not an option if there has been reckless action that exposed a worker to the risk of death or serious injury or illness.

Woods Glass’s operations manager Tim Reilly says the whole process was hard work, but it was rewarding.

“Going through the EU was a huge investment for our company,” Mr Reilly said.

“A huge amount of work went into seeing this process through. As a medium sized business the work has been onerous and at times really tough – but it has been invaluable.

“Two years on from the incident we are different. Our workers speak up when they see unsafe behaviour. We have seen a change in health and safety culture ripple through the business and we hope this benefits the wider industry.”

As well as looking after the welfare of their worker, Woods Glass hosted workshops for Lisex cutting machine operators, ran presentations and training sessions and offered a trade scholarship at a technical institute. It also modified its migrant worker induction programme to make it easier to understand and will provide interpretation services for its workers.

There is more on Enforceable Undertakings here.