Health & Safety changes

Simon Bridges has announced:

The most significant reform of New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system in 20 years has been announced today by Labour Minister Simon Bridges.

“The Working Safer package represents a major step change in New Zealand’s approach to meet our target of reducing the workplace injury and death toll by 25 percent by 2020,” says Mr Bridges.

“The reforms recalibrate our approach so we are working smarter, targeting risk and working together to improve performance in workplace health and safety.

“This is the legacy we owe to the Pike River families, the families of the 75 people who are killed each year in New Zealand workplaces, and the estimated 600 to 900 who die annually from the long-term effects of occupational disease.”

Mr Bridges says Working Safer addresses the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety which provided Government with a solid foundation to work from.

The details are:

  • an overhaul of the law, supported by clear, consistent guidelines and information for business on their requirements
  • more funding for WorkSafe New Zealand to strengthen enforcement and education and implement the changes
  • a focus on high risk areas
  • stronger focus on occupational harm and hazardous substances
  • better coordination between government agencies
  • improved worker participation
  • stronger penalties, enforcement tools and court powers.

The CTU has praised the package:

The CTU welcomes moves today to strengthen our health and safety system.

Helen Kelly, CTU President said “the announcements today acknowledge that our health and safety system is in need of an overhaul, and we welcome the direction taken by the Government with these proposed changes.”

“Moves to strengthen worker participation at the workplace are particularly positive and will help keep Kiwi workers safer at work. The inclusion of a general duty to involve and consult with workers on health and safety matters, and strengthen the role of H&S representatives will give workers a voice in how health and safety is handled in their workplace”. …

“The Government’s response today is, in general loyal to the recommendations of both the Pike River Inquiry and its Taskforce recommendations and that is exactly as it should be. 

Their only real complaint is they don’t get to appoint a board member:

However to choke on the strong consensus recommendation from the Taskforce (that included business and government representation) that tripartism is an essential element that should be evident throughout the system, and to not have worker representation on the Board is both short-sighted and a badly missed opportunity which is unfair to the working people of this country”

Business NZ has also welcomed the package:

BusinessNZ has welcomed today’s announcement today of new health and safety legislation to be administered by the recently established Worksafe New Zealand.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said it was a significant step in the right direction.

“Moving to a principles-based regime in which health and safety responses are tailored to the business rather than the current one-size-fits-all approach will be a real help to many businesses, as will a simpler approach to levy setting and other costs.

Pretty good work to have both Business NZ and the CTU praising the package.

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