Serious Harm per region

This page provides data on up to date and historical serious harm notifications per region. Please note 2011 data is provisional and subject to change.

These statistics will be updated every six months – the next update will be 31 July 2012.

Serious Harm Notifications received per region 2007 to 2011

Region 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Bay of Plenty
Hawkes Bay
West Coast
Not Defined¥


(from the Department of Labour Website)

Many industries are taking on a more holistic approach to health and safety in the workplace and seeing the benefits in increased productivity, greater staff loyalty and reduced injury rates.

Farming has long been recognised as a hazard-rich occupation where a sound approach to health and safety can make a real difference to productivity and employee satisfaction.

Hayden and Rachael Finch are 50/50 sharemilkers on a 191-hectare dairy farm near Rakaia in Canterbury, milking 725 cows through a 40-bail rotary shed. They have been on the property since 2004 and have signed up for another three seasons, with a plan to buy their own farm after that. They live on the farm with their two young children and employ three full-time staff.

Why health and safety is important

Both Hayden and Rachael grew up on farms, so have always been aware of the hazards involved in farming. “With the changing nature of farming, you’ve got new equipment coming onto the farm and into the business all the time… You have to work out whether it’s dangerous or not, and how it can be made safe for your staff,” says Hayden.

Their awareness of health and safety grew while they were both working in the gold mining industry in Western Australia. A series of major incidents, including a fatality, heightened their understanding of the importance of having good health and safety systems in place.

“It brings home how simple accidents can happen and that a simple accident can be a tragedy.”

The Finches are interested in health and safety in its own right. It is vital to them that their children, their staff and they themselves are safe, but they also appreciate how health and safety connects to their business targets. The couple see their business as a ‘system’, with all parts of the operation impacting on each other. As Rachael says, “There’s going to be a lot of downtime if we’re down a staff member because of injury, and the job just won’t get done.”

They understand that staff who work efficiently are going to improve the productivity of their farm. And in a high-risk industry like farming, working efficiently means working safely. They want good health and safety systems in place so they can be confident that things are being done in the safest and most efficient way. “It’s good for us in that we can have confidence that things are going to be going right out on the farm,” says Hayden.

It’s the way we do business

“Having a mindset of health and safety is the key.”

It’s about believing in what you are doing. There is no one single thing that delivers the Finches’ health and safety successes. It’s the combination of everything they do that contributes to the positive, safe and healthy farm culture.

It’s a team approach

Health and safety, and hazard identification are standing items on the agenda of the regular meetings the couple hold with their staff around the kitchen table with tea and cake.

Everyone is involved in the decision-making process, and staff are encouraged to come up with ideas on the best way forward. As farm assistant Becca says, “Hayden and Rachael take opinions from each of us to come up with the best solution… to go forward with next. We’re all very involved with what happens here.”

It’s about investing in your staff

“Everyone talks about farming being sustainable, and that’s the same with our staff. We can’t just keep chewing through people because they’ve been injured on the job.”

This staff investment starts on the first day with a full induction programme and training. Staff are introduced to the various hazards as they go onto each new task, and a buddy system helps them gain confidence. Staff are also encouraged to do training, such as first aid or chainsaw courses. For herd manager Brad, training courses are really important: “If you’re here trying to get right to the top of the industry, then you need to know all this information.”

By making their working hours more comparable to a ‘town’ job, with a ‘six and two’ roster (six days on/two days off), the Finches have found their roster attracts staff and helps them stay alert. They also noticed a huge improvement in staff productivity after they began sharing the evening meal with them. Instead of a bag of chips for dinner, resulting in lethargic and tired workers, by providing a decent meal, they found their staff were a lot more active and engaged.

It’s about having clear policies and procedures

“There are a lot of things we do in day-to-day work that have the potential to cause harm,” says Rachael. The couple have developed a practical set of manuals clearly setting out their responsibilities and those of their staff.

The hazard manual is a living document that is constantly reviewed as new machinery and chemicals come onto the farm. It sets out all the identified hazards and explains how they can be managed, for example, machinery, terrain, animals, vehicles and chemicals. Farm assistant Helen says, “The emphasis on health and safety on this farm has confirmed for me that this is the way forward for farming.”

Hayden and Rachael get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from supporting the dairy farming industry through their staff taking their health and safety experience and skills as their careers progress.

It’s about having a positive, safe and healthy workplace culture

The Finches run their farm with their hearts and heads. The result is a positive, safe and healthy culture. They have witnessed the personal tragedies caused by poor health and safety, and because their farm is the family home as well as their business, health and safety is imperative. They are also aware of the business benefits from valuing staff and having good health and safety systems in place. Attracting quality staff who can work efficiently, confidently and safely is a direct and clear contributor to farm productivity, which takes them one step closer to their plan of owning their own farm.

Key learnings

  1. Health and safety is part of every aspect of a business. Seeing your business as a system helps to integrate health and safety effectively and productively.
  2. Staff who feel safe, valued and equipped with the right skills have the confidence and capability to be effective, efficient and productive.
  3. Building a positive safety culture needs to involve everyone in the business.
  4. Identifying hazards and managing them needs to be an ongoing process.
Return on investment
Investment Return
Staff induction and training
Confident, skilled staff who can do the job properly the first time.
Practical manuals and policies
Everyone is clear on their responsibilities and how to approach the various tasks on the farm. This makes for a more efficient way of working.
‘Six and two’ roster with timesheets
Less fatigued staff.
Improved staff recruitment and retention.
An open and inclusive workplace
Free exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Good farm culture.
Sharing meals with staff
More alert and productive staff.

About John

John Riddell is a health and safety practioner having been in the trade for over ten years. He holds a TechNZISM grading and sits on the executive of the Auckland branch of the NZ Institute of Safety Managers.

He is experienced in accident investigation, auditing, hazard identification and  coaching having worked for major NZ manufacturers. He is also experienced in warehousing and the H&S of facilitation management for the not for profit sector.


The object of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is to promote the prevention of harm to all people at work, and others in, or in the vicinity of, places of work.

The Act applies to all New Zealand workplaces and places duties on employers, the self-employed, employees, principals and others who are in a position to manage or control hazards.

The emphasis of the law is on the systematic management of health and safety at work. It requires employers and others to maintain safe working environments, and implement sound practice. It recognises that successful health and safety management is best achieved through good faith co-operation in the place of work and, in particular, through the input of those doing the work.



The general duties of employers is to:

  • Be responsible for providing a safe working environment
  • Ensure employees are properly trained and / or supervised so they can work safely
    work with the employer to:
    • Identify hazards in the workplace, and
    • Ensure that those hazards are eliminated, isolated or minimised.
  • Eliminate hazards where possible, depending on how much harm it could
    cause and how difficult and expensive it would be. Where a hazard cannot be
    eliminated employees have the right to know about the hazard and what they need to
    do (or not do) to work safely.
  • Provide employees with specified information about any monitoring (e.g. noise, dust) that has taken place, emergencies that may arise and hazards to which employees may be exposed.
  • Ensure all types of potential emergency has been identified, the relevant emergency procedures are in place and employees are trained and know what to do.
  • Take all practicable steps to ensure employees do not harm anyone else,
  • As a Principal to a contract, ensure that contractors, sub-contractors and their employees are not harmed, or do not harm your employees.


As an employee, you have responsibilities for keeping yourself and others safe.

You can make your workplace safer by:

  • Being involved in processes to improve health and safety
  • Sticking to correct procedures and using the right equipment
  • Wearing protective clothing and equipment
  • Helping new employees, trainees and visitors to the workplace understand the right safety practices and why the practices exist; and
  • communicating any safety concerns to your employer.


  • As an employer, the Contractor has the same responsibilities as Employers above.
  • As a person (or entity) that is often in control of a place of work the Contractor is responsible for preventing injury to persons in the vicinity of that workplace.  This could range from a builder on a building site to a contractor mowing grass with a tractor and mower in a public park.

Proactive enforcement approach to preventing falls from height –



Preventing falls from height is a priority for the Labour Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

From 1 July 2012, health and safety inspectors will be enforcing the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 in the construction sector as part of the Labour Group’s Preventing Falls from Height project.

Falls while working at height contribute to an unacceptable number of serious harm accidents reported to the Labour Group. More than half the reported falls are from less than three metres and most of these occur from ladders and single-storey roofs. More injuries from falls happen on residential building sites than any other workplace in the construction sector.

Work at height must be actively managed so that  people are not harmed or killed as a result. Doing nothing is not an option.

This document outlines the enforcement  actions you can expect from inspectors if you are not working safely at height. It has been drafted in accordance with ourKeeping Work Safe enforcement policy.


The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act) sets out that  duty holders must take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of workers when they are exposed to the risk of a fall or where the hazard of working at height exists.

To help bring down the death and serious injury toll resulting from falls from height, our health and safety inspectors will be visiting worksites to target enforcement  where there is significant visible non-compliance. This includes worksites that  are:

  • taking inadequate precautions to prevent falls from and through single-storey roofs and other structures
  • using ladders or trestles where an alternative would be more appropriate, for example scaffold, mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), or guard-railed temporary work platforms
  • using ladders unsafely, including defective or substandard ladders.

If there’s a chance of a fall – from any height – precautions have to be taken. Health and safety inspectors will challenge any workplace that  supports a view that  no height hazard exists below three metres.

How will worksites be targeted?

Worksite visits will not be at random. Health and safety inspectors will use information and knowledge from a range of sources to target duty holders and worksites, including:

  • information from construction clients who have current prior warnings for falls-related breaches
  • reviewing the regular What’s on Reports
  • their local knowledge gained through regular patrolling of residential areas
  • information from local authority  building inspectors who have identified sites where they found no edge protection or scaffolding being used
  • complaints, serious harm accidents and hazardous work notifications.

Inspectors will continue to visit the worksites of targeted duty holders until they are satisfied the duty holder is complying with the HSE Act. If another significant hazard is observed, it will be addressed in accordance with the Labour Groups’s Keeping Work Safe policy.

Who will be targeted?

  • builders, roofers, electrical workers, painters and decorators  who are at high risk of falling from less than three metres while working on roofs, off ladders and unsafe working platforms
  • principals of the builders, roofers, electrical workers, painters and decorators who have been identified as working unsafely (inspectors will proactively identify and engage with principals regarding compliance issues)
  • residential construction, but not exclusively
  • duty holders with a history of poor compliance with safe working at height
  • large companies with a history of poor compliance and poor contractor management with safe working at height

What are  the enforcement expectations?

For cases that… Enforcement expectation
Involve a fall from height in the construction sector that  resulted in serious harm and when evidence supports that  there has been a failure linked to one or more of the three key areas A recommendation of prosecution is expected
Did not result in serious harm, but had the potential to and where evidence supports that there has been a failure linked to one or more of the targeted key areas Inspectors will consider the merits of a prosecution
Did not result in serious harm and there was a valid prior warning for a same or similar matter An infringement notice will be issued

Note: The inspector will carefully consider the legal duties of each party, be able to prove all elements of the offence and also consider whether or not following particular guidance was practicable in the circumstances.

How will compliance be assessed by inspectors?

Inspectors will be assessing if equipment and workplace practices comply with the HSE Act and are adequate to prevent falls from height. Compliance will be assessed across three key areas:

  1. Hazard management (including hazard identification  and control)
  2. Selection, use and maintenance of equipment
  3. Systems for the selection and control of contractors

1. Hazard management (including hazard identification and control)

That hazards associated with potential falls from height have been identified and adequate control measures are in place (as per the hierarchy of controls).

Read Safe Working at Height Factsheet 1: Planning a safe approach to working at height for more information

Expected enforcement  actions – Hazard management
Hazard management
Situation Enforcement action
The inspector observes inadequate/no precautions to prevent falls from or through single-storey roof and other structures OR unsafe use of ladders. Prohibition Notice will be issued, or, if rectified  immediately, a Written Warning.
The inspector finds evidence thatthe hazard of a fall from height has not been adequately managed, and appropriate steps and controls are not being taken.
Note: Short duration work at height will be treated the same as any other activity at height.
Improvement Notice will be issued which may require the duty holder’s hazard management system to identify work involving the height hazard and the appropriate steps for carrying out the work safely.

2. Selection, use and  maintenance of equipment

That appropriate  fall prevention and access equipment is provided, well maintained, regularly inspected and used.

Read Safe Working at Height Factsheet 2: Selecting the right equipment for working safely at height for more information

Expected enforcement actions – Selection, use and maintenance of equipment
Selection, use and maintenance of equipment
Situation Enforcement action
Work is being carried out at height where a person could fall a distance likely to cause personal injury and there are no controls to prevent falling, for example roof work, work at open edges, unjustified use of a ladder or trestle. Prohibition Notice will be issued.
Note: Improvement Notice may also be issued requiring the duty holder’s hazard management system to identify work involving the fall from height hazard.
Edge protection – Guardrails, mid rails, toe boards or similar barriers are not rigid enough to prevent a person or materials falling; the dimensions don’t comply with current standards. Prohibition Notice will be issued.
General scaffolds – Where a scaffold  is not…
  • erected, altered and dismantled by competent people
Improvement Notice will be issued to ensure workers are adequately trained or supervised by a competent person.
  • provided with guardrails, mid rails, toe boards or similar barriers and a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury
Prohibition Notice will be issued.
  • provided with fully boarded working platforms
Prohibition Notice will be issued.
  • inspected by a competent person at least once per week
Improvement Notice will be issued requiring an inspection system to be implemented by a competent person.
Tower scaffold – A tower scaffold  has been incorrectly assembled such that:

  • there are no guardrails and toe boards, or
  • no safe access to the working platform, or
  • the height of the tower scaffold is more than three times the minimum base dimension and the manufacturer’s height to base ratio cannot be clarified by the duty holder, or
  • the tower is not vertical, or a ladder is being used on top of it.
Prohibition Notice will be issued.
Mobile elevating working platform (MEWP) – Where there is…

  • no segregation, MEWP or part of it, seen working at height in a live highway. Poor on-site segregation and unsafe practices seen
  • ground conditions poor or not considered so there is a risk of an overturn or collapse
  • no fall protection equipment provided or incompatible inappropriate equipment used and unsafe practices seen
Prohibition Notice will be issued.
After dealing with immediate segregation issues as detailed above, a safe system of work may be needed for segregation. The enforcement expectation is that  this is to be directed by using an Improvement Notice.
  • no evidence of MEWP being thoroughly examined in the last six months and no defects  are visible.
Improvement Notice will be issued requiring a thorough examination to be conducted by a competent person and for a system to be in place to ensure that  all necessary inspections and examinations are conducted
Harness systems – where:
  • lanyards are in use and there is visual evidence of significant defects  or damage (cuts, abrasion)
Prohibition Notice will be issued.
  • scaffolding (not tower) is being erected/dismantled/altered with no safety harness and associated equipment
Prohibition Notice will be issued.
  • harnesses and lanyards are used frequently and there is no inspection regime but no evidence of defects
Improvement Notice will be issued requiring an inspection system is put in place by a competent person. The duty holder will need to specify the type and frequency of inspection.
  • the duty holder’s hazard assessment does not demonstrate that  other, safer (group control) work equipment is not practicable and inspector has reasonable grounds to
    believe that  a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury
Prohibition Notice will be issued.
  • there is no reasonable grounds that a person is at immediate risk of falling a distance liable to cause injury but there is safer (group control) work equipment practicable in the circumstance
Inspector will discuss/explain the safer alternative and may allow work to continue, requiring the duty holder to use safer (group control) equipment in the future (in the form of anImprovement Notice)
  • users of harness systems are not adequately trained/competent.
Improvement Notice will be issued requiring users to be adequately trained in the safe use of harness and have a system that  ensure the ongoing maintenance of competence.
Ladders – Where portable leaning ladders which are available for use, or in use:
  • show splits in timber ladders, cracked welds at rung/stile connections on metallic ladders, missing rungs, lack of rigidity and play between rungs and stiles, missing anti-slip devices at the top and bottom, bent stiles at the bottom
Prohibition Notice will be issued as well as an Infringement Notice if there is valid prior warning.
Note: for a prosecution to be considered the defective ladder would have to be found in use and the defect would have to be obviously dangerous.
  • have signs of damage or defects  which are not likely to result in imminent risk of serious personal injury, for example minor dents in rungs, damage other than those listed above
Improvement Notice will be issued, requiring that individual ladders are inspected, or an inspection system is put in place by a competent person. The duty holder will need to specify the type and frequency of inspection.
  • are used as work platform at heights where a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury, and consideration has not been given to whether ladders are appropriate  equipment for the work.
Improvement Notice will be issued which may require
the duty holder’s hazard management system to identify foreseeable work that  needs to be carried out from portable ladders and to decide whether they are suitable for the work.

3. Systems for the selection and  control of contractors

That principals know how to screen potential contractors and actively monitor their work. Read Health and Safety in Contracting Situations for more information

If workplaces are not complying, inspectors will then act in accordance with the enforcement expectations set out below. These expectations ensure a consistent approach is used by all inspectors nationally.

Expected enforcement actions – Systems for the selection and control of contractors
Systems for the selection and control of contractors
Situation Enforcement action
Where there is regular or frequent use of contractors for work at height, particularly if various contractors are used, and no contractor management procedure is in place. Improvement Notice will be issued which may require the duty holder’s hazard management system to identify work involving the height hazard and the appropriate  steps for carrying out the work safely.

Taranaki company fined $60,000 after employee seriously injured by sawmill

Media Release

6 July 2012

Brian Crawford Contracting Limited has been fined $60,000 and ordered to pay $50,000 in reparation to an employee who had a leg amputated in an accident with a portable sawmill in September last year.

The accident occurred at the company’s yard near Opunake when the employee was “jump-starting” the sawmill with leads connected to the battery of a tractor.  When the employee reached up to disconnect the jumper leads, his overalls were caught by the cutting blade and his legs were pulled into the blade.

His right leg was amputated at the upper thigh in the accident and he required major reconstructive surgery on the upper thigh of his left leg.

“This accident could have been prevented if Brian Crawford Contracting had taken some simple steps to ensure the machine was set up safely, well maintained and that safe operating procedures were followed by employees working on the sawmill,” says Ona De Rooy, head of workplace health and safety in the Central Region for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

“This is a tragic example of a preventable injury occurring in a workplace. The lack of adequate safety procedures remains a significant cause of workplace death and injury.  This accident happened because the employer put a temporary fix in place that required employees to put themselves in harm’s way.  It’s not good enough,” she says.

The Ministry has a project underway to help reduce the number and severity of machinery-related accidents.

The Safe Use of Machinery project is now into its second year and involves inspectors talking to employers about machine guarding and reminding them of their responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 to keep their employees safe while at work.

In the first year of the project, inspectors visited more than 1400 workplaces to talk with employers and increase their awareness of machine guarding.


Notes to Editor

  • Brian Crawford Contracting Limited was charged with one offence under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
  • Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states: Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—
    • (a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
    • (b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
    • (c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
    • (d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
      • (i) in their place of work; or
      • (ii) near their place of work and under the employer’s control; and
    • (e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.
  • The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online:
  • Brian Crawford Contracting Limited was sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court today. Judge Roberts was presiding.

Media contact: 0274 422 141 or email


Why Health and Safety


The Government is currently spending a lot of money to curb occupational health and safety accidents and incidents.

Every one has probably heard about Pike River, the coal mine accident. We have had the Rehina disaster, and over the past week a young man fell off the AUT building that is under construction in Auckland. Can any of these disasters be mitigated against with good Health and Safety policies and procedures?

So are you prepared for a disaster, have you done everything to either eliminate, isolate or mitigate against an incident happening in your workplace?

Don’t forget it is not just a business, but also not for profit organisations that need to be prepared for such events.

If you would like help, 4 hours a month or 10, we can tailor make a package to suit your budget, and help make your H&S policies come alive, with buy in from all the staff, contractors. visitors and volunteers..

Call us today – John Riddell on 0274779750