A health and safety agency

February 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Simon Bridges has announced:

The Government’s focus on significantly lifting New Zealand’s workplace health and safety record is behind the establishment of a new, stand-alone agency, says Labour Minister Simon Bridges.

The creation of a stand-alone Crown agent was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Coal Mine Tragedy.

“The new agency will have a dedicated focus on health and safety and underlines the Government’s strong commitment to addressing New Zealand’s workplace fatality and serious injury rates,” says Mr Bridges.

“We have a firm target of a 25 per cent reduction of these rates by 2020.

This was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission, and you expect the Government to implement all the recommendations unless there is a very good reason not to. The Pike River tragedy is a good example of what happens when there is an inadequate focus on health and safety.

Of course no workplace can be made free from risk, and nor should it be. Health and safety is always a balancing act. Otherwise we would engineer cars to not drive faster than 30 km/hr.

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14 Responses to “A health and safety agency”

  1. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    OSH nazi’s in uniform?

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  2. Redbaiter (6,482 comments) says:

    I’ve been looking for some benefit in having Bridges in parliament, and so far I’ve seen very little. A bill that increased penalties for cruelty to animals and some shuffling about on climate change countered by a welcome vote against the extreme left Louisa Wall’s redefinition of marriage bill. So he’s not as progressive as too many of his colleagues.

    But a one time Tauranga lawyer directing NZ’s industrial sector in matters of Health and Safety? Where does his CV qualify him for this role?

    There are already too many regulations in this area, Such regulation is a growth industry that is fast strangling growth in every other industry.

    Pike River didn’t need more regulation. If there was any failure there outside the management, it was a failure to enforce existing regulations.

    NZ industry needs skilled input from specialists, not more of the failed culture of Wellington bureaucracy.

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  3. Andrei (2,431 comments) says:

    Oh my goodness a new jobs for the apparatchiks – well I never.

    A really easy way to eliminate industrial accidents would be to eliminate all industry, get rid of all the dangerous occupations and employ everybody in the Public Service as paper shufflers and rubber stampers.

    This will help in the former goal by making so many rules, regulations, training requirements etc that it will be impossible to economically operate dangerous machines like lathes and press breaks

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  4. Redbaiter (6,482 comments) says:

    Yes Andrei, and there will be a stream of little would be petty tyrants fresh from the destruction they have caused in the UK clamouring to fill the positions Bridges has created.

    Most of them will not have any qualifications for the role. They will be ex Welsh policemen or parking meter wardens from Gloucester.

    Prime Minister David Cameron today said that his new year’s resolution was to “kill off the health and safety culture for good”.

    Health and safety legislation has become an “albatross around the neck of British businesses”, costing them billions of pounds a year and leaving entrepreneurs in fear of speculative claims, he said.

    And he revealed he has asked the Health and Safety Executive to bring forward to the end of 2012 its timetable for abolishing or consolidating up to half of all existing regulations.

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  5. Manolo (12,643 comments) says:

    More and more quangos. Pffttt.
    The National and Labour parties are the same disease under a different name.

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  6. Johnboy (13,439 comments) says:

    Anyone that goes down a gassy coalmine for $80,000 a year really needs to take stock of their lives to be honest!

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  7. backster (2,000 comments) says:

    ‘Stand alone agency’…….The remuneration ,bonuses, and redundancy provisions will be pretty generous. Probably room for ex MPs in some capacity.

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  8. Jim (385 comments) says:

    Oh dear. What next? Taking coroners recommendations seriously?

    “Health and Safety”:
    * a long-running joke among anyone with a shred of common sense.
    * a tool for parasites of all kinds to extort businesses.
    * an excuse for an indolent worker to keep their seat warm. “Can’t do that sorry. Health and safety.”

    you expect the Government to implement all the recommendations unless there is a very good reason not to

    Given that 146 are hurt just getting out of bed each week and “more people are injured in their own home than those injured at work or on the road.” then I’d say that is good enough reason to not bother.

    Workplaces are already safer than home.

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  9. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    At a slight tangent to coal-mines and the like, but still relevant. I suspect that not many know that the Department of Labour presently has officials (labelled “Health and Safety Inspectors”) visiting lifestyle blocks inquiring about the use of quad-bikes on such properties. Under the guise of discussing safety practices and offering helpful advice and written materials on quad-bike safety, they find our about your own habits when using a quad-bike for hobby farming purposes.

    Be warned – it’s a form of official entrapment. If you acknowledge in the supposedly-friendly conversation that you’re not doing everything totally kosher (e.g. not “following the manufacturer’s instructions” by failing to wear a safety helmet on every occasion of quad-bike use) you then get told verbally that you will receive a written warning under the Health & Safety in Employment Act. That Act, as we have now discovered, contains a section (s. 17) that binds the self-employed in the same way as it would impact on an employer.

    A short time later the official warning letter arrives – by registered mail, of course. It has the effect of giving a “prior warning” that is a pre-requisite under the Act before an infringement notice may be issued (even though an inspector has never even seen you riding a quad-bike!). All this happens simply because you were dumb enough to allow into your home Health & Safety Inspectors who came knocking on your door; and even dumber in answering truthfully targeted questions that were concealed within a seemingly-informal 35-minute conversation. No reading of one’s rights that even a criminal could expect, no honest outlining of the real reasons for the visit by the Gummint, just a raw and deceitful exercise of official power.

    We were naive in allowing any Government official onto our property without a warrant or a detailed written explanation of the purposes and possible ramifications of the visit. It won’t happen again.

    In our household we have never treated public servants as anything other than people trying to do their job. This bitter experience has changed all that – in future they will have to earn our co-operation. Sad but necessary in this age when governments and major political parties pay only lip service to ideals of individual freedom.

    A final point. As most here might expect, this official little interrogation and entrapment exercise was not being carried out at minimal taxpayer expense. It took two public servants rather than one to pay us the friendly visit. A leopard’s spots never change.

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  10. Redbaiter (6,482 comments) says:

    Thanks for that story CG. Such a disgusting intrusion and act of deception.

    There will be some pasty faced recently educated graduate sitting behind some desk in Wellington who has dreamed up this outrageous scheme.

    He will have a staff of like clueless half educated socialist mungbeans working under him, and they will all be imbued with the same superior air and projecting the same message- You’re a stupid citizen, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you,”.

    And this scheme will have been signed off by whoever is the relevant Minister in the National Party, for these clueless and spineless morons in National don’t give a damn for such things as concern you and I, our freedoms as individuals and property owners, and those Ministers are there merely to do the bidding of the odious little half educated socialist swines filling most government admin roles these days.

    Things have to change, and the only way they will change is if we have a political pressure group here that is similar to the Tea Party in the US, and works at getting rid of the cowards and backsliders and betrayers in National and replacing them with politicians who will take a stand against this kind of fascist intrusion. There is no other way out of this mess.

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  11. tvb (3,948 comments) says:

    Simon showed quite a bit of skill over the the WOF changes so let us see how this change goes down. This should be easy as it is a recommendation of the Royal Commission. I assume there will be some staff disruption so Simon will have that to deal with that. I assume with more skill than Hekia Parata.

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  12. calendar girl (1,108 comments) says:

    RB: I doubt very much that “this scheme will have been signed off by whoever is the relevant Minister …..”. I don’t believe that a Minister of the Crown’s express authorisation would be required for this level of departmental operation. The nearest the Minister got to it, I suspect, might have been a general briefing about on-farm safety during which the bureaucrats gave their Minister a generalised feel-good plan to implement a programme of safety reminders. I would be amazed, though, if the modus operandi on private land, at least as it was used in our case, was ever intimated to the Minister.

    But here’s another concern. If we were now to go to that Minister (Simon Bridges, but the same with any other Minister) making a complaint about the behaviour of his departmental staff, I would wager that our complaint would soon become known to the actual perpetrators of this pernicious Big Brother scheme. From that moment, our little hobby farm would come under regular external surveillance until a spiteful Health and Safety Inspector could find contrived cause to issue the infringement notice that we so clearly deserve.

    As you portray accurately, RB, the tenor of the official intervention would be: “You’re a stupid citizen, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.” No thanks.

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  13. Steve (North Shore) (4,330 comments) says:

    My opinion on the Pike River?

    It will not be opened up because there is evidence. Ciggarette butts

    Workers smoking and lighting up inside the mine, and the Management failing to control it.

    The Accident is to be blamed on Workers, Union, Management, and Owners

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  14. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    Heh..apathetic sheeple..

    Fools!

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