The New Zealand Government has rolled out a new workplace health and safety strategy for the next decade, which includes a broader definition of work-related harm.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said although the nation had made significant progress in recent years, New Zealand’s rates of work-related harm was still high by international standards.
“We have made significant progress in reducing work-related harm since the Pike River tragedy but it is clear there is much more we can and must do.”
The strategy includes better management of work-related health risks including mental health, while helping business most at risk – such as dangerous sectors and small firms. It also looks to support at-risk workers including Maori, Pasifika, migrants and seasonal workers.
“There are still 50-60 deaths from work injuries each year and 600-900 deaths from exposures to health risks associated with their work. This is unacceptably high and the pace of progress has stalled.”
“Deaths from work-related disease may be as many as 10 times the number of deaths from acute harm each year, and issues like bullying, stress and fatigue are having a huge impact on workers across New Zealand.”
According to the government, the strategy will:
- Set a clear direction for New Zealand and provide a shared vision
- Identify common capability gaps and opportunities, through a set of goals and priorities that help focus efforts
- Support better coordination, by providing visibility of different roles and a framework of discussion
- Improve measurement, through the work to build a better picture of New Zealand’s overall health and safety
The Strategy was jointly developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and WorkSafe New Zealand, together with a range of stakeholders. Its development flows on from the recommendations of the Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety that reviewed New Zealand’s system in response to the Pike River tragedy in 2012.
“New Zealand can be among the world-leaders for workplace health and safety if we can get our attitudes and practices right. The strategy will help us achieve this, by focusing on what makes the biggest impact in key areas that we must improve,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.