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Personal Injury in NZ

SP2 Accredited employers programme

Accredited employers programme
The accredited employers programme allows employers to manage injuries in return for reduced levies.
The accredited employers programme, marketed as the ACC Partnership Programme, forms part of the Government’s injury prevention strategy. The introduction to the ACC Partnership Programme Guide provides that the accredited employer programme is designed to:
“help ACC meet its objectives of promoting injury prevention, workplace rehabilitation and reducing work related personal injury claims costs and premiums by giving employers a direct financial interest in maintaining their standards of workplace safety and integrating injured employees back into the workforce.”
History of accredited employers programme
The accredited employers programme has had a stop go history. It was first introduced on 2 September 1996 (Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Amendment Act (No 2) 1996, was dismantled and replaced with competitive insurance (Accident Insurance Act 1998) on 1 July 1999, and was reintroduced on 1 April 2000 (Accident Insurance Amendment Act 2000).
The 2000 Amendment Act re-established an Employer Account, allowed the Corporation to collect employer premiums, and established the accredited employers programme. Sections 281A-281H and 326A-326H of the 2000 Amendment Act were inserted into the 1998 Act and came into force on 1 April 2000.
Framework for the accredited employers programme — the ACC Partnership Programme
Section 326C of the Amendment Act 2000 required the Minister to gazette a framework that was developed for the accredited employers programme. It was gazetted on 19 April 2000 (Gazette, issue no 41) and entitled “Framework for the accredited employers programme”.
The framework is known as the ACC Partnership Programme. The Corporation issued a booklet as a guide in October 2000 called the ACC Partnership Programme: The Self-Management Programme for Accredited Employers.
The criteria for entry into the partnership programme is that employers wishing to join must undertake all legal responsibilities relating to their workplace health and safety.
In the introduction to the section on safety management practices, the guide says:
“The ACC Partnership Programme seeks to promote safer NZ workplaces, through the development of a strong health and safety commitment among accredited employers.
“The standards developed by the ACC Partnership Programme are closely allied to the requirements of the Accident Insurance Act 1998, the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (and amendments) and the NZ Interim Standard Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems NZS4801 (Int) 1999.”
Critical elements of the ACC Partnership Programme
Critical elements of the partnership programme under the accredited employers programme are:
Employer commitment to safety management practices;
Planning, review, and evaluation;
Hazard identification, assessment, and management;
Information, training, and supervision;
Incident and injury reporting, recording, and investigation;
Employee participation in health and safety management;
Emergency planning and readiness; and
Protection of employees from on-site work undertaken by contractors and subcontractors.
The philosophy underpinning the accredited employer programme is that employers require a financial incentive to encourage them to invest in improvements to their workplace health and safety programmes. If employers have to directly pay for the costs arising from workplace injury then employers have a financial incentive to invest in injury prevention in order to reduce these costs.
Accredited employer scheme and the Accident Compensation Act 2001
Section 183(5) of the Act states that any framework established under Part 10A Accident Insurance Act 1998 that is in force immediately before the commencement of this section is a framework under this section.
Section 395 of the Act provides for accreditation agreements entered into under the 1998 Act to be regarded as accreditation agreements under the Act.
Section 182 of the Act sets out the objectives of the accredited employer programme. It allows accredited employers, after consultation with employees, employee representatives and their union, to provide at their own cost, entitlements in relation to work-related personal injuries.
Accredited employers must provide injury prevention and rehabilitation services, along with directly managing workplace accidents.
NZCTU Guide to the ACC Partnership Programme
The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions has produced The ACC Partnership Programme Guide for Union Delegates and Health and Safety Representatives. In its introduction, NZCTU President Ross Wilson says:
“The ACC Partnership Programme enables employers, employees and their unions, to jointly take on many of the responsibilities previously discharged by ACC itself. In doing so the Programme recognises that when employers and employees and their unions work together, they can produce excellent injury prevention and rehabilitation outcomes . . . The ACC Partnership Programme gives employees and their union representatives the right to, and the responsibility of being more closely involved in developing procedures for injury prevention and rehabilitation as well as ensuring that injured employees get their proper entitlements in accordance with the law.”
An employee checklist for the ACC Partnership Programme (from the NZCTU guide) includes:
Does the partnership in the company include employees and their representatives?
Have employees been given the opportunity for input into the company’s application to the partnership programme?
Have employees been involved in developing agreed healthy and safe systems of work?
Is there a regular and ongoing forum where employees can raise issues relating to health and safety and rehabilitation?
Are hazards properly identified and assessed, and appropriate control strategies in place, or clearly timetabled?
Is there an agreed process for employees to be involved in an annual self assessment audit?
Have employees been involved in developing procedures to support safe and sustainable workplace based rehabilitation?
Are injured employees given the opportunity to have advice, representation and support?
To enter and maintain membership, the partnership programme employers must meet minimum audit standards for health and safety management, claims administration, and rehabilitation. An independent auditor uses the ACC partnership programme audit tool to assess selected sites each year. Further consideration of whether these systems are working in practice is provided by case studies of actual injuries, or focus groups where there are insufficient lost time injuries.
Uptake of ACC Partnership Programme
At present, there are 800 employers who have been accredited to self-insure and to manage safety and rehabilitation of their employees.

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