Health and safety funding for safe Canterbury rebuild

  • Kate Wilkinson
Labour Earthquake Recovery

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson today announced funding of $300,000 for a range of health and safety initiatives to assist with the safe rebuild of Canterbury.

The funding is for the 2011/12 year and comes from the Employment Relations Education (ERE) Contestable Fund.

"The Government is committed to rebuilding Canterbury and ensuring that the transformation is achieved safely.  There has been and we will continue to see a large influx of contractors working in Canterbury,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“Some of their health and safety systems are not adequate for the size of this job so this funding will target subcontractors in commercial and residential construction and focus on getting the right safety systems in place.”

The size of the rebuild requires a co-ordinated approach.  A number of leading firms and organisations have already established formal partnerships to support smaller contractors. 

This funding will support that work, allowing smaller contractors to improve their safety practices.  The first steps include:

  • Increasing the number of small business subcontractors engaged on Canterbury construction sites who have health and safety systems in place;
  • Improving the capacity of subcontractors who can develop and implement Site Specific Safety Plans;
  • Providing technical training tailored to the unique challenges associated with rebuilding Canterbury;
  • Establishing networks and information channels for health and safety representatives to share their knowledge.


“This initiative has brought employers and unions together to build a strong partnership.  The large construction companies, unions and employer representative groups are equally committed to a safe rebuild and are aligning their resources with this initiative,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“While the initial focus is on education, training and influencing behaviours to ensure a safe rebuild, we expect the legacy of trained workers in the commercial and residential sector will carry on across the country as subcontractors return to their homes.”

Questions and Answers

Who is leading this initiative?

Industry representatives from the construction and infrastructure sector, union and employer representatives and the Department of Labour established a forum to address the unique health and safety issues that the Canterbury rebuild presents.

The organisations involved to date include the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, Business NZ, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union, Site Safe NZ, Fletcher EQR, Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team*, Hawkins Construction, Naylor Love, Mainzeal/MWH and Arrow International.

[* Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team is an alliance between Christchurch City Council, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), City Care, Downer, Fletcher Construction, Fulton Hogan, and MacDow New Zealand.]

What is the Employment Relations Education (ERE) Contestable Fund?

The ERE Fund supports employment relations education under the Employment Relations Act and the training of health and safety representatives under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The aim of health and safety representative training is to promote co-operation among employers, employees and unions in health and safety management.

Who can apply to the fund?

The fund is open to applicants who are a registered union; a union organisation; an employer; an employers' organisation and any other provider recognised under the Education Act or by NZQA.