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Your business is most likely a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU). As a PCBU in New Zealand, you are under significant health and safety legal obligations. One such obligation is to keep a thorough accident record for your workplace. This obligation includes maintaining a comprehensive accident report detailing information as to what happened and why. Such record-keeping may seem onerous. However, it is vital for reducing and eliminating the risk of future accidents of the same kind occurring. It is also crucial for meeting your legal obligations.

This article explains the requirements and obligations around recording accidents in the workplace. It includes the detail of accident reports and when your business needs to notify WorkSafe. 

Do I Need to Record All Accidents?

You or someone in your business must record all accidents in your workplace. This is a legal obligation for your business as a PCBU under health and safety law in New Zealand. Likewise, there are a few specific obligations associated with this general need to record and monitor accidents. For instance, ensure that you keep your records in an accessible format for an extended period. This typically means that your business should keep the records electronically. In addition, if WorkSafe asks to see your accident records, you must be able to share this with them.

While you must record all accidents, serious accidents that cause harm to your workers are particularly important. Therefore, you need to understand why the accidents occurred and prepare to take steps to minimise or eliminate the risk of the accidents reoccurring in the future. 

Note that if an accident happens to a customer, client or anyone visiting your workplace, it is still important to record such an incident.

You need to record all accidents, not just those affecting employees. Common types of accidents in New Zealand to watch out for include:

  • machinery errors;
  • equipment failure;
  • car or other vehicle accidents;
  • electric shocks;
  • incidents involving guns, explosives or firearms; and
  • fires. 

What Details About an Accident Should I Record?

Accident reports should be comprehensive, with information both about the accident itself and the affected individuals. These records are vital to maintain your legal obligations and to minimise the future risk of accidents. Accident reports should include:

  • the name and date of birth of the individuals involved;
  • position in the business of any employees;
  • the extent of the injuries or illness;
  • the date and time of the accident;
  • a description of what happened;
  • the location of the accident; and
  • the causes or reasons the accident happened.

Note that if the business changes hands for whatever reason, accident records must still be maintained and transferred in an accessible medium to the business’ new owner. 

Do I Need to Notify WorkSafe?

WorkSafe is New Zealand’s health and safety regulator. Legally, your business must notify WorkSafe if serious accidents occur in your workplace. WorkSafe will typically investigate the workplace where an accident occurred. 

Further, your business should take a safety-first approach regarding its legal obligation to notify WorkSafe. If an employee has a serious or fatal injury of any kind, or there is a notifiable illness in the workplace, you must report this. 

A notifiable illness is anything that requires an employee to go to the hospital (or something that would normally require admission to the hospital). In addition, there are other quite specific situations where you should notify WorkSafe, such as in the event of serious burns. 

Likewise, you should discuss with a health and safety specialist if you have any questions about your obligations. Of course, these obligations to notify WorkSafe go hand in hand with having good record-keeping and documentation about accidents that occur in the workplace. 

Key Takeaways

Recording accidents is an integral part of your business’ responsibilities as a PCBU in New Zealand. You should ensure you have records for all work-related accidents. This includes accident reports that record:

  • what the accident was;
  • why it happened; and 
  • details about the employees involved. 

Further, your business must also notify WorkSafe of any serious or fatal injuries or notifiable illnesses. It is crucial to ensure your business meets all of its health and safety obligations when accidents occur, both for the benefit of affected employees and to avoid steep fines. 

For more information about keeping a thorough accident record, contact LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all accidents in the workplace need to be recorded?

Yes. Employers must have records for all work-related accidents and prepare steps to ensure the causes of the accidents are eliminated or minimised.

What should businesses include in accident reports?

Accident reports should include information about the accident itself, such as what happened, the date and time of the accident, and what caused it. It should also include information about any employees included in the reports. Be sure to detail the employee’s name and date of birth, position in the business, and any injuries they have received.

When does WorkSafe need to be notified about an accident?

Generally, you must notify WorkSafe whenever an employee has a serious or fatal injury or has been admitted to the hospital for an illness or injury. In addition, there are other specific instances where you must notify WorkSafe, such as serious burns and serious spinal injuries.

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