Privacy in health and safety: part I

Best Practice – Recording Incidents

There may be times when you want to tell everybody at work about an accident in order to prevent it happening again. That’s well and good, but please take a moment to think about how you report the event. Does the victim need to be identified? If so, are they okay about this, and about the details you have collected? Check out the advice from the Privacy Commissioner here.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 imposes a duty on the PCBU to keep a record of incidents and events at work. One of the key reasons for this is to help organisations learn from their mistakes (and near misses). However, the Privacy Act also imposes a duty to protect employees’ personal information, and if they have been hurt that is certainly part of that brief. So is there a contradiction? And if so, how do we strike the balance? More specifically, who is entitled to know the full story of an accident, in all its gory details?

We ran these questions past WorkSafe and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and suffice it to say there are no clear and formal answers. However, as we shall see, there need not be a problem.

There are some general principles that should be followed and we’ll also show you how to generate an appropriate privacy policy that supports your health and safety at work, and some points around exposure and health monitoring at your workplace.

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