21 May 2013

Corporate manslaughter prosecutions difficult - minister

8:15 am on 21 May 2013

Labour Minister Simon Bridges says he is considering introducing corporate manslaughter legislation, but similar laws overseas have found problems with prosecutions.

The Government has released new voluntary health and safety guidelines for company directors, aimed at reducing workplace injuries and deaths.

It follows recommendations from the Pike River Royal Commission and the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety.

In its final report into the deaths of 29 men in explosions at the Pike River Coal mine in 2010, the Royal Commission concluded the company chairman's general attitude was that things were under control unless told otherwise.

The Council of Trade Unions says the guidelines do not go far enough and it wants new legislation to hold directors liable if they do not implement them.

Mr Bridges told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme experience overseas has shown it is difficult to prosecute for breaches in this area.

"As I understand it, Australia and the UK, we haven't seen successful prosecutions in that area."

A company director says he would support a law change making directors accountable for health and safety standards in the workplace.

Peter Griffiths, a director of several companies including Z Energy, says directors cannot just take the word of management, but need to be proactive, investigate and assure themselves the safety culture in a workplace is effective.