The completion of a high profile Enforceable Undertaking by Downer New Zealand has strongly demonstrated the company’s commitment to health and safety across the construction industry.

An Enforceable Undertaking (EU) is a voluntary agreement between WorkSafe and a duty holder following a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and is generally used as an alternative to prosecution.

Following a work place incident in 2016 – in which a subcontractor lost their eye while using an angle grinder to trim bridge posts – Downer believed there would be more benefit to the health and safety system from an EU, rather than a prosecution. WorkSafe agreed.

To signal the completion of the process, WorkSafe met representatives from Downer last week to discuss the EU, which involved money being invested back into industry and the wider community.

This included establishing scholarships for tertiary study in workplace health and safety, revising and further developing its contractor prequalification process, paying reparation to the victim, presenting findings on alternative cutting methods to the industry and making a donation to charity.

With more than 50,000 staff working across more than 300 construction sites, Downer has set the bar high when it comes to improved health and safety in the construction sector says WorkSafe, and the company has strongly demonstrated the value of an EU.

WorkSafe’s Acting Chief Executive Mike Hargreaves said it was great to hear about the benefits of an EU first-hand. This is the first time WorkSafe representatives have met with a company as part of the EU process, he said.

Much of Downer’s total expenditure as part of the EU was invested back into the industry to work towards higher health and safety standards, said Mr Hargreaves.

“The work Downer has completed of part of its EU shows how the process works as a regulatory tool which benefits the victim, the workplace, the sector and the community.

“It shows that Downer is committed to health and safety not only within its own business, but right across the industry.”

Mr Hargreaves said while WorkSafe saw the value of EUs as a regulatory tool, it should not be viewed as a ‘get out of jail for free card’.

“Make no mistake, an EU is onerous. Through these programmes we see a number of important benefits produced for the system and Downer’s recently completed EU is a great example of how the model can work.”

To date there have been 24 accepted Enforceable Undertakings between WorkSafe and duty holders, which has seen more than $3.8 million distributed across workplaces, industry, and community health and safety initiatives.

For more information see Downer's EU.

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