Worksafe Week

  • Max Bradford

Together to Zero - Eliminating Workplace Death
Labour Minister Max Bradford today launches a campaign to eliminate New Zealand's workplace death toll and reduce the social and economic cost of workplace fatalities and injuries.

Worksafe Week 1997 (October 6 to 10) marks the official launch of OSH's strategic direction Together to Zero: Eliminating Workplace Deaths, particularly targeting the highest risk industries of farming, forestry and construction.

"We should be able to take it for granted that our workplaces are safe, but the fact is we can't," Mr Bradford said.

Mr Bradford said:

there were 41 workplace fatalities in the 12 months to June this year
14 of those workers died on farms; 9 died in forestry, 10 died on construction sites.
the rate of workplace fatalities among farmers is nearly three times the national average.
farm workers die at more than seven and a half times the New Zealand average.
construction accounted for nearly a quarter of workplace fatalities in the year to June.
workplace death rates among Maori are unacceptably high. In the past six years 86 Maori died in workplace accidents. In the last decade, 170 Maori workers died in forestry.
"The cost in terms of human grief and suffering is immeasurable. In monetary terms, it is estimated the cost of workplace fatalities is around $150 million a year, " Mr Bradford said.

"That is why the Government is taking action - through OSH - to achieve a zero fatality rate in our workplaces. Through Worksafe Week and OSH's new strategic direction, the aim is to get the workplace death toll down - to zero."

Together to Zero - Eliminating Workplace Deaths is a partnership between industry, employees and OSH encouraging employers and workers to take ownership of their own workplace safety - with particular focus on the three killer industries; farming, forestry and construction.

There is also a new focus on Maori, who make up a high proportion of the workforce in these industries. A new partnership will see OSH working more closely with Maori, with the ultimate goal of a stand-alone agency for Maori by Maori to eliminate death and serious harm in all industries - especially farming, forestry and construction.

"Through education and awareness of workplace hazards and safe practices, 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.

Often it is simple steps which save lives - a seat belt worn in a bulldozer, clothing and hair secured properly, one piece of safety equipment installed; easy and cheap if only the hazards are known and managed, employers and employees educated and aware, and safe practices followed.

"Court action after a workplace injury or fatality is nothing more than an ambulance - or a hearse - at the bottom of a cliff. The campaign we are launching today helps put in place the fences at the top of the cliff.

"The aim is simple - no more workplace deaths in New Zealand."

During this 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.

The Minister of Labour will launch the inaugural Worksafe Week 1997 in Midland Park, Wellington, at 9.30am today.