• Max Bradford

New Zealand's first national week to devoted to workplace health and safety will be held in October this year, Labour Minister Max Bradford announced today.

Worksafe Week 1997 will be run by the Department of Labour's Occupational Health and Safety Service in conjunction with industry groups throughout the country from October 6-10, 1997.

The week marks the official launch of OSH's strategic direction Together to Zero: The Elimination of Workplace Death.

"Our ultimate aim is to stamp out death in the industries which account for New Zealand's highest workplace fatality rates," Mr Bradford said.

"It is a tragic fact that three industries - farming, forestry and construction, claim the highest number of workplace deaths every year.

"Of the deaths investigated by OSH in the year to July 1997, 31 out of 41 workplace fatalities occurred in these three industries."

The Health and Safety in Employment Act puts the onus on the employer to take all practical steps top identify and mange workplace hazards.

"The Government and industry must work together to bring the occupational death toll down and reduce the social suffering and economic cost of workplace fatalities," Mr Bradford said.

During Worksafe Week, OSH's 18 branches will work with local industry, employers and employees to get the message of occupational health and safety into more workplaces.

"Zero can be a positive number for all of us," Mr Bradford said.