March 2021

Robyn Bennett

There have been some interesting and robust discussions recently regarding the need for those undertaking health and safety investigations to be registered as private investigators under the Private Security Personnel And Private Investigators (PSPPI) Act 2010.

In June 2020, the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority (PSPLA) issued an important decision regarding the Act. The decision highlighted [14] “…the definition of private investigator to cover all people in the business of carrying out investigations into a person’s character, actions or behaviour…”

It is clear that external Health and Safety Workplace Investigators who don’t hold the correct licence may be found in breach of the Act. There are exceptions to this, including with those conducting in-house workplace investigations not needing a license.

However how does this impact on health and safety auditors, assessors, and similar? There are significant ramifications for those in health and safety roles. The Act provides restrictions on who can obtain information and potentially by definition (under section 5(2)) include health and safety auditors, workplace assessments, SafePlus assessors, and similar. HASANZ requested a legal opinion regarding the requirement for health and safety auditors to hold the required license. It appears there remains some uncertainty regarding the activities that auditors or assessors undertake as part of the activities they perform, and whether it would meet the definition under the Act.

For ACC Accredited Employer Programme Auditors, ACC has been clear and advised that: “ACC’s position is that ACC Approved Auditors (AEP, ACC Fleet Saver) business activities do not fall under the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010 (PSPPI Act) and so they are not private investigators for that purpose.” It was also noted that ACC is not the Crown for purposes of the PSPPI Act. Complicating matters, is the work history, memberships, training, and evidence requirements in order to be a private investigator do not align well with the health and safety activities typical of our members.

At this point, we have no definitive answer in the audit and assessment arena. Not only for those providing consultancy services which might deem them to be private investigators but also for those organisations seeking external audit or assessment support; when might private investigator licensing be required by whom they engage? As the outcome will affect not only NZISM but also all our related associations, HASANZ is taking the lead to provide a definitive answer, and define how that might affect NZISM and our health and safety colleagues. They will be writing to the Minister of Justice to seek clarification on whether any of our members meet the criteria and are required to be private investigators. We will update you as soon as we receive further guidance.

Useful links:

Decision
PSPLA
Act
Employment.govt.nz

Ngā mihi

Robyn Bennett
President, NZISM