• Max Bradford

Labour Minister Max Bradford today launched a nationwide safety blitz on construction sites to draw attention to the need for safe work places.

He said the two-week blitz was announced last month as part of the response to this year's unacceptably high number of workplace deaths, particularly in the construction industry.

"Workplaces have claimed 46 lives so far this financial year, including 16 in the construction sector. This is simply not acceptable - one death is one too many," Mr Bradford said.

He said many construction deaths were the result of falls from heights, and this would be a particular focus during the blitz. In addition, OSH will be reporting back to me on dangerous practices observed in the industry, where the real problems are and how they can be resolved.

"It is clearly more important than ever that together, industry - employers and workers - and the Government tackle the issues to make workplaces as safe as possible. But the primary responsibility for safety in workplaces rests with employers and workers, not the taxpayer," Mr Bradford said.

"The weekend's miraculous survival of a construction worker in Wellington who fell 23 floors is another reminder of just how important it is to prevent the tragedy of injury and death in the workplace."