Risks for Trustees

March 07 2014

Health and safety, and other laws, can affect trustees

The Pike River Mine tragedy has changed the way in which health and safety is thought about. This, and other legislative changes, are likely to have major effects for trustees in the future. If your trust owns any type of business or a farm, the trustees need to start thinking more about their responsibilities.

Following the Pike River disaster a Royal Commission under Justice Pankhurst looked at what went wrong and what we can learn from this tragedy for the future. As a result, the authorities are now taking occupational health and safety much more seriously. In the future the laws are likely to be re-written to require a lot more of employers. Regulations that might once have been dismissed as ‘nanny state’ will now need much more attention paid to them.

This might not seem important to trustees as few trusts own a coal mine. But the new regime will go much further and wider than that. The forestry industry is one which has already been targeted. Any trust which owns any type of business will need to be concerned about health and safety requirements. Trustees can be liable for very substantial damages and fines if the trust fails to meet its obligations.

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