We would like to offer you condolences on your loss.

This information explains what to expect when we investigate a death caused by a workplace accident.

  • WorkSafe's role in investigating the accident
  • The decisions and legal processes that may follow
  • The services and support that are available to you during this difficult time


WorkSafe is the Government agency responsible for workplace health and safety in New Zealand. One of our tasks is to carry out fair and independent investigations into workplace accidents.

What will happen during the investigation?

WorkSafe inspectors and the New Zealand Police may both be involved in the early stages of the investigation. The Police investigate whether an offence has been committed under the laws the Police are responsible for, while we investigate whether any of New Zealand’s health and safety laws have been broken.

During the investigation we will try to find out:

  • what led to the accident
  • what, if anything, could have been done to prevent it
  • what, if anything, should be done to prevent an accident like this happening again
  • whether anyone involved in this accident broke the law, and whether any action should be taken against them.

As part of their role, our inspectors will (if possible) examine the scene of the accident, interview people who were involved, and review documents that relate to the accident.

How will WorkSafe let me know what's happening during the investigation?

Once we have begun investigating the accident, an inspector will contact you to arrange a face-to-face meeting, or a conversation over the phone if this is not possible. If you have questions at any stage, or think you may have information that could help, please contact the WorkSafe inspector assigned to the investigation.

We aim to keep you informed about key stages of the investigation. There will be information that we are not able to share with you because it may affect possible legal proceedings.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the investigation process. Investigations are often complex and it can take months to reach a conclusion.

What will happen at the end of the investigation?

Criminal proceedings

After the investigation is complete, we will make a decision about whether to prosecute. Our purpose in prosecuting is to discourage others from breaking the laws we are responsible for enforcing, and to make the people who break those laws accountable.

If we decide to prosecute, the inspector investigating the accident (or another WorkSafe representative), will contact you to let you know, and explain that process.

For more information about how we decide whether to prosecute, see our Prosecution Policy

Coroner’s Investigation

The results of our investigation will be passed onto a coroner. Coroners are qualified lawyers who hold inquiries into sudden unexpected deaths. A coroner opens an inquiry to understand when, how and why someone has died. Coroners can also make recommendations or comments based on their inquiries that may prevent other people dying in a similar way.

The information page ‘When someone dies suddenly’ outlines the Coronial process in more detail.(external link)

Information on making a complaint

We take your privacy seriously and will handle all personal information with care and respect.

We are committed to dealing with all complaints fairly, and value your views.

You will be treated with courtesy, respect and fairness at all times.

If for any reason you are unhappy with the service or experience you have received from us, please let us know. We are dedicated to learning how our service may be improved.

How to make a complaint or provide feedback

Write to us at: Feedback and Complaints, WorkSafe New Zealand, PO Box 165, Wellington 6140

Email us at: feedback@worksafe.govt.nz

Call us on: 0800 030 040

Sources of help and further information

The following organisations can offer information and support, or put you in touch with other local support services.

The Grief Centre

The Grief Centre has a large collection of resources and other support information available online for all New Zealanders coping with loss.

More information on these services can be found on the Grief Centre website. (external link)

Phone: 09 418 1457

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

ACC can offer support for partners, children and other dependants. They may be able to assist with:

  • funeral grants
  • a survivor’s grant
  • childcare payments
  • weekly compensation.

Contact your doctor for support with lodging an ACC claim.

More information on these services can be found on the ACC website.(external link)

Phone: 0800 101 996

Victim Support

If you are directly affected by a workplace fatality, either as a colleague or a family member, Victim Support are available free of charge to provide a range of practical and emotional support.

Victim Support can assist with:

  • understanding and accessing the financial, legal, and other practical support services available to you
  • free psychosocial support and accessing professional counselling services
  • practical assistance through the court process.

More information on these services can be found on the Victim Support website.(external link)

Phone: 0800 842 846


Skylight has a large collection of resources and other support information available online for all New Zealanders coping with loss. They also provide a free tailored support pack service, with a strong focus on children and teenagers.

More information on these services can be found on the Skylight website.(external link)

Phone: 0800 299 100


You can also contact your union for further support.

Download printable versions of this page

Information for bereaved families (PDF 1.5 MB)
Information for bereaved families - fact sheet (PDF 273 KB)