New Zealand business and workers' organizations have fallen in line with backing a review of workplace health and safety law to ensure workers protection. According to a report from NZ Newswire, Labor Minister Kate Wilkinson ordered the review by an independent taskforce to determine whether or not the system was set up properly to cut the number of accidents in the workplace.[WCx]
"Too many New Zealanders are injured or killed at work. People have a right to know that when they leave for work in the morning, they will be coming home safe and well at the end of the day," Wilkinson commented. The task force is to report back by the end of the year. BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions both provided statements backing the review.
"There is widespread concern about the high rate of accidents and death at work in New Zealand compared with a number of other countries so a review is needed," said CTU president Helen Kelly. BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly notes the review was a long time in coming and the legislation needed to be kept up to date and relevant.
"The current system is not as clear as it should be, and fails to take account of the need for safety to be a responsibility of everyone in the workplace," O’Reilly stated. The review comes as the rebuild after the Canterbury earthquakes gears up and the inquiry into the Pike River mining disaster is due to report back in September. In addition, an extra $37 million will be spent over the next four years to increase the number of health and safety inspectors, provide more money for the new High Hazards Unit and fund other initiatives.
"This investment will bolster the health and safety inspectorate and support initiatives to help improve the culture of workplace safety in New Zealand," Wilkinson added. “We need to know whether our current health and safety system is fit-for-purpose and provides the right base to reduce workplace harm. Our health and safety legislation is now 20 years old. This review is timely, particularly with the rebuild in Canterbury gearing up, and the Royal Commission due to report back in September.”
Wilkinson has put in place a target of a 25 percent reduction in workplace deaths and serious injuries by 2020.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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