Launch of Worksafe Expo ‘99Enterprise and Commerce
Ellerslie Convention Centre
Thank you Lane and Steven,
And a special thank you to Graeme Dingle, whose expertise foiled those of you whose dream it was to see a politician end his days hanging from a rope.
As Lane said, the last year has been a time of tremendous change for the work safety industry.
And it has been change for the better.
Providing competition in accident insurance has not only seen significant premium falls for many businesses, but it has also put in place the framework that we expect to lead to dramatic benefits in terms of workplace safety and health.
Initiatives like this Worksafe Expo, the Worksafe Week, the Worksafe Fund and the construction industry blitz will all help to address the problem of New Zealand's unacceptable work safety record.
These are not overnight solutions, but already we are beginning to see the benefits with a significant fall in the number of people killed at work over the last business year.
Perhaps the biggest change is the growing realisation that workplace safety is all our business, whether we are in government, are employers, employees, contractors or members of the community at large.
To emphasise this, "Play Your Part" is the theme of the Worksafe week this year.
This Expo is a good example of industry taking the intitiative to work in partnership with Government to reduce workplace injury and illness.
I was delighted to hear that so many employer partners are attending free seminars to improve their workplace records.
The new environment means that bad employers are hit where it hurts - on the bottom line.
Similarly, employers with good accident histories and a strong focus on safety and rehabilitation can now be rewarded with lower premiums.
This is the way it should be.
The result is that employers are now able to - and are - putting their hard earned cash on the line by entering risk sharing arrangements with insurers, backing their commitment to keeping their workplace safe.
The Government is willing to assist with solutions and providing the $500,000 a year Worksafe Fund is one means to do so.
We had a very positive response to the creation of the fund earlier this year and received 96 applications requesting $3.5 million in funding.
Today I am please to announce the 14 applications that have been successful.
The projects cover a variety of areas and will make a significant contribution to making workplaces safer.
Some projects build on existing work to provide better information, such as the Work-Related Fatal Injuries Study by the New Zealand Environmental and Occupational Research Centre.
The centre has received $78,000 for completion of international comparison of work-related fatal injuries.
The New Zealand Mineral Industries Association has received funding to develop, print and distribute two Mining Codes of Practice and run a communication and education programme.
FarmSafe New Zealand has received $55,000 for a project to reduce injury and death on farms due to tractors and All Terrain Vehicles.
Other lower risk industries will also benefit.
For example, Graphic Risk Management has received $17,800 for the development, printing and distribution of health and safety guidelines for the screen printing industry.
I am particularly pleased to be able to fund Tamaki Makau Rau (Auckland) Maori Business Network for a project which will scope the awareness of Maori businesses in Auckland of HSE Act requirements and develop strategies for assisting Maori businesses to comply with the Act."
All these projects will help make a difference to our work safety record, just as this expo will with its wide range of exhibitors and the opportunities it presents to exchange ideas.
I am delighted to declare this Worksafe Expo 1999 open.