WorkSafe New Zealand is warning businesses that anyone who tries to obstruct, cover up or manipulate evidence or situations will be met with serious consequences.
It comes after two men pleaded guilty to misleading an investigation into incidents where workers were potentially exposed to hazardous substances.
Aimex Limited was originally sentenced in July 2021 for an incident where an apprentice was exposed to vapour from solvents that he had been using to clean an engine room, causing serious injuries.
It was found to have failed to develop a safe system of work relating to hazardous substances, and had failed to properly supervise, train and instruct its workers on work with hazardous substances.
During its investigation WorkSafe became aware of a similar incident at Aimex Limited, which was repeatedly denied by the business owners. Evidence later came to light that the business had destroyed key documents to cover up the previous incident.
WorkSafe passed this information to the Police, who prosecuted one individual for perverting the course of justice and another for making a false statement.
“WorkSafe staff carry out high-quality investigations, so it’s surprising that some organisations try to obstruct, cover up, or manipulate evidence and situations to avoid being held to account. It doesn't work,” says WorkSafe Chief Executive Phil Parkes.
“In this incident, WorkSafe was already actively involved when the documents were destroyed. It was a brazen decision and we applaud the Police for prosecuting such a serious matter, as well as the people who came forward with information. We encourage anyone who sees unsafe work to raise a concern with WorkSafe."
"Reducing exposure to harmful substances is one of WorkSafe's enforcement priorities. Businesses know the risks harmful chemicals pose to workers and the public. Our message is simple: there is no excuse, and WorkSafe will do everything it can to hold you to account."