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Safety boost for Police speed camera operators – WorkSafe NZ

The operator was thrown from his parked van in August 2021, when it was struck by a car on the Upper Harbour Highway at Greenhithe. The car driver died, and the operator suffered life-changing injuries.

A WorkSafe investigation found that Police could have carried out a more effective risk assessment of locations where operators work from, and required them to park safely behind motorway barriers and/or use seatbelts.

In response to the incident, Police has now applied to WorkSafe with a comprehensive pledge to improve safety for its speed camera operators. WorkSafe has officially accepted the pledge, known as an enforceable undertaking, which includes:

  • Reparations to the injured operator
  • Delivery of an enhanced traffic camera operator induction and training package
  • Implementing a framework for managing critical risks and ways to control them
  • Creation of a dedicated critical risk team to embed the work programme
  • Presentation of lessons learned to the transport sector

“These activities will enable something positive to arise from serious harm. The aim is to bring about enduring health and safety change in a way that a fine through the courts may not have,” says WorkSafe’s deputy chief executive operations, Kane Patena.

The commitment is endorsed by both the injured operator and the Police Association, and will see a significant investment from Police towards worker and job safety.

As a result of the agreement, WorkSafe charges against Police have been discontinued meaning a trial due to start next month will no longer take place.

“WorkSafe will regularly monitor progress on the activities which have been agreed, and can resume prosecution if the commitment is not upheld,” says Kane Patena.

In 2025, NZTA will begin operating speed cameras through a contracted third-party provider, using a different operating model to that of Police. Police will provide information on lessons learned and improvements made to NZTA to help inform its operation of mobile cameras.

Read more about the Enforceable Undertaking

Statement from New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner, Jevon McSkimming:

Safety of the community and our people is at the heart of everything we do at New Zealand Police.

When one of our own is injured in the course of their duties, it’s felt deeply throughout the organisation.

Our Traffic Camera Operator (TCO) suffered serious harm, and we recognise the ongoing impact that has on his life, both personally and professionally.

While New Zealand Police continues to aid in his recovery, we know that is not enough – systematic change is required to ensure the safety of all 78 TCOs around the country.

This Enforceable Undertaking is an opportunity for us to further improve safe roadside policing.

More than a dozen changes to policy and processes are outlined in this binding agreement, from a health and safety review through to enhanced training for TCOs.

Some changes have already been made, including the establishment of a dedicated Critical Risk Programme team to embed the programme of work.

In 28 years of Mobile Speed Cameras, spanning hundreds of thousands of hours, this is the first incident of this nature. It’s important to note that this crash was a deliberate act by a member of the public who drove their vehicle at the Mobile Speed Camera van at considerable speed.

New Zealand Police has invested considerable internal resource and capability to undertake this rectification work and is committed to continuous safety improvement.

Statement from the injured traffic camera operator:

I am pleased to see Police enter this agreement with WorkSafe. I hope it leads to long-term improvements, so nobody has to endure a repeat of what I’ve gone through.

When the collision happened, I was extremely smashed up. I spent the first few days in intensive care fighting for my life with a skull fracture and scalp lacerations, lung injuries, and fractures to my ribs and legs. With a total of three months in hospital, I was plain lucky to survive.

I still live with ongoing pain, and have difficulty walking long distances, but am able to swim and cycle. Although I had 106 weeks off work, the goal I set myself was to return to being a traffic camera operator and did so in December 2022.

I am grateful to my wife and family for their support throughout my recovery – but also the Police for enabling me to return to work.

 

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