Are Enforceable Undertakings worthwhile?


The completion of an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) by Woods Glass has highlighted some of the benefits of the WorkSafe enforcement tool that serves as an alternative to prosecution

In 2018 a Woods Glass worker suffered crushing injuries to their leg while operating a glass cutting machine. Woods Glass applied to WorkSafe successfully for an EU, a voluntary agreement between WorkSafe and a duty holder following a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Woods Glass is a medium sized business specialising in glass supply and commercial glazing, with branches across the country. As part of its EU the company was required to develop resources and implement a suite of initiatives to benefit its workplace and workers.

This included modifying its migrant worker induction programme so it is easier to understand. The company also now offers interpretation services for all employees who request it.


The worker was injured in January 2017 when the glass cutting machine he was working with jammed.

The worker climbed onto the machine to see what had happened and as the jam was cleared the machine inadvertently began operating again, crushing the worker’s leg.

He suffered a compound dislocation of his left ankle that required two weeks hospitalisation and more than two months off work.

Following investigation into the incident, WorkSafe found that Woods Glass had failed its employee under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, including a lack of safe procedures and guarding involving the piece of machinery.

WorkSafe Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services, Simon Humphries said: “Woods Glass has recognised the importance of educating industry partners in the safe operation of machinery. They have demonstrated consideration and leadership and have consulted extensively with their employees in the development of this undertaking.”

“We know language and cultural differences can sometimes be a barrier to effective health and safety management. The activities outlined in this undertaking focus on language, culture and diversity in health and safety as well.”

The injured worker felt that the enforceable undertaking was a constructive approach to what had occurred.

Under the enforceable undertaking, Woods Glass committed to initiatives including:

  • Providing amends in the form of payment to the victim and support to the victim.
  • Developing a suite of initiatives to benefit the workplace and workers.
  • Hosting workshops for Lisec cutting machine operators within the glass industry.
  • Presenting and sponsoring a session at the Windows Association of New Zealand and Glass Association New Zealand annual conferences.
  • Providing specialised training courses in conjunction with the Glass & Glazing Institute NZ.
  • Producing community resources on health, safety, wellbeing, inclusion, and diversity.
  • Offering a scholarship for a trade qualification at the Mount Albert Unitech Institute of Technology.
  • Sponsoring Community Alcohol & Other Drug Services in the South Auckland community for language interpretation services.

Pat Harrison, Managing Director of Woods Glass said: “Woods Glass expresses deep regret and remorse to our fellow employee for the accident, pain and suffering he endured.”

“We work in an industry where serious harm can occur at any time and pride ourselves in ensuring that staff health and safety and wellbeing are paramount. To have this happen is unacceptable and has resulted in significant changes and improvements within the Woods Glass group.”

“We understand our responsibilities and that we must provide our staff with an environment and culture that will enable them to go home each day safe and healthy. We will embrace the Enforceable Undertaking and the lessons to be learnt.”

Full enforceable undertaking, together with the reasons for the decision

Two years on

WorkSafe representatives and Woods Glass recently met to discuss the EU’s completion.

The company’s Operations Manager Tim Reilly said the process was laborious but rewarding.

“Going through the EU was a huge investment for our company,” Mr Reilly said. “A huge amount of work went into seeing this process through. As a medium sized business the work has been onerous and at times really tough – but it has been invaluable.

“Two years on from the incident we are different. Our workers speak up when they see unsafe behaviour.

“We have seen a change in health and safety culture ripple through the business and we hope this benefits the wider industry.”

WorkSafe’s Enforceable Undertaking Spokesperson Cordell Weir said the completion of the Woods Glass EU shows the benefit of the process to smaller companies.

“The work completed as part of Woods Glass’ EU will provide long term sustainable health and safety improvements in the workplace, industry and community.

“An EU isn’t meant to be an easy task. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes for these companies to see the process completed.

“It’s positive to hear another business has found the benefits of the model outweigh the sometimes arduous work.”