2 May, 2012
Workplace safety to get funding boost
Workplace health and safety will get a $37 million boost over the next four years, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has announced.
In addition, Ms Wilkinson has ordered a full review of New Zealand’s health and safety system by an independent taskforce to ensure it is fit-for-purpose.
“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,” Ms Wilkinson says.
The extra funding will be used to increase the number of front-line health and safety inspectors, further fund the High Hazards Unit, support targeted health and safety initiatives, and develop ICT to improve data sharing and analysis.
“This investment will bolster the health and safety inspectorate and support initiatives to help improve the culture of workplace safety in New Zealand.”
The number of inspectors will rise to 180 over three years – a 20 per cent increase that will bring New Zealand in line with Australia.
“We have seen from the success of the High Hazards Unit the importance of having the right people on the ground working closely with businesses.
“I have set a target of a 25 per cent reduction in workplace deaths and serious injuries by 2020. A strong and effective regulator is the cornerstone of any health and safety system, and this funding will help ensure this target is met.”
Ms Wilkinson says the independent taskforce, once established, will be asked to report back by the end of the year with fresh ideas to improve the system.
The Government will respond separately to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Pike River but any advice provided by the commission on wider health and safety issues will be considered as part of the review.
“We need to know whether our current health and safety system is fit-for-purpose and provides the right base to reduce workplace harm,” Ms Wilkinson says.
“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.
“Workplace health and safety needs to be seen as an investment that leads to better performance. Safety is not a trade-off for productivity – the two go hand-in-hand.”
The extra funding comes from contributions to the Health and Safety in Employment Levy.