Lime Scooters - a new option
Lime Scooters - a new option
Thursday 31 October, 2019
The recent introduction of Lime Scooters to New Zealand’s major cities has presented people with the option to glide quickly and effortlessly across the CBD on an electric scooter. People on a Lime Scooter do not waste precious minutes searching for a carpark or spend money on parking.
Employees and employers alike may consider these scooters to be an easy and harmless way for employees to travel across town to visit a customer or client, to deliver small items, or for any number of other work-related excursions.
Risk of injury and death
However, Lime Scooters are controversial due to the risk of injury and death to those using them and to people around them. The degree of injuries at stake range in seriousness from minor grazes, up to traumatic brain injury and death. Two recent deaths in central Auckland, which involved a 59-year old man on 24 June 2019 and a 23-year old man on 20 September 2019, are both suspected to have resulted from incidents involving Lime Scooters.
The risk associated with riding a Lime scooter is therefore one to take seriously.
How does this risk affect employers?
Most employers will be a person conducting a business or undertaking, known as a “PCBU” under the Employers and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (“the Act”). Section 36 of the Act puts a duty of care on a PCBU to ensure their workers’ and other people’s safety (as far as reasonably practicable) while they are working. Employers will therefore owe this duty of care to their employees and other people affected by their work.
This duty includes providing and maintaining safe systems of work and providing any information, training, instruction, or supervision necessary to protect employees and others from risks to safety arising from the employee’s work.
The greater the potential harm, the greater the employer’s responsibility to ensure safety measures. The recent deaths in Auckland therefore increase employers’ obligation to take measures to address the risk arising from employees’ use of Lime Scooters while working. Under s 49 of the Act, a breach of their duty of care may lead to a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual who is a PCBU, or up to $500,000 for companies.
This duty of care applies during work. Employers are not responsible for employees commuting to and from work on Lime Scooters, except potentially where the employer has encouraged them to do so.
What should employers do?
Employers should not ignore this risk. Every employer whose employees make work-related trips during their working day needs to protect itself from liability by mitigating or preventing their employees’ increased risk of injury.
An employer could ban the use of Lime Scooters by employees in the course of their employment altogether, which must be stated in its policies and communicated to employees; or
An employer could set out the conditions under which a Lime Scooter can be used during employment to mitigate the risk of injury or death, which must also be outlined in its policies and communicated to employees.
Updating policies and employment agreements
The introduction of Lime Scooters demonstrates the need for employers to regularly review and update their policies. If employment documents are prepared properly, an employer can update and change its policies without needing employees to agree to those updates. However, all policy changes should be communicated to employees and the employer must enforce them.
If you wish to discuss this article or require assistance in preparing policies and employment agreements, contact our employment team.