A loophole in the way company vehicles are managed and services puts thousands of New Zealand companies in danger of violating the Health and Safety Work Act 2015. The structure of how vehicle leases work, coupled with new Warrant of Fitness (WOF) rules, raise the risk factor.

Under the act, company vehicles are considered places of work, and one already identified as a national priority by the government, said Lance Manins, CEO of New Zealand car leasing and finance company Driveline.

Many companies mistakenly assume that vehicle lease service and maintenance agreements are safety inspections, Manins said. However, a WOF inpection does not guarantee roadworthiness, and even a full maintenance lease does not free company management of their responsibility.

In addition, WOF only requires vehicle inspections every three years (or every six months on vehicles older than 2000). This leaves a lot of time for vehicle problems to get worse.

Traffic can highly affect the wear-and-tear on vehicles and many traffic accidents are caused or made worse by poor vehicle maintenance, according to Manins. He advised managers to prioritize work vehicle safety within the business.

Although most companies don't consider running a sales team a high-risk activity, such as driving a truck or forklift, vehicles are the largest cause of work-related injury in New Zealand.