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75 workplace deaths a year ok then?

Written By: - Date published: 9:36 pm, April 30th, 2013 - 116 comments
Categories: national, workers' rights - Tags:

Three days after Workers Memorial Day, the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Safety has just released its report. In finding the New Zealand workplace health and safety system is “not fit for purpose” the report provides yet another indictment of so-called light-handed regulation and a policy of leaving it all to the employers. The government will do a u-turn and set up an independent safety agency, and workers will have to be included in its management.

But incredibly Simon Bridges and the National government are still sticking to its old target of reducing workplace deaths by 25% by 2020. An average of 100 people die each year in New Zealand, way ahead of other advanced countries. The Taskforce thinks this target as modest – I think it means the government still doesn’t get it. One death at work is one too many –  zero tolerance should be the policy, and zealous energy expended in bringing the number down sharply.

Last year the Taskfroce chairman Rod Jager was right on point:

“A 25 per cent reduction in 100 deaths is only 25. It still means we are killing 75 people in our workplaces and it still means we are worse than Australia and substantially worse than the UK,” Jager said.

In releasing the report this year he said:

Mr Jager said the Government’s target of a 25 percent reduction in workplace fatalities and injuries by 2020 was realistic but far from what the nation should aspire to. The Taskforce’s vision was that “within 10 years, New Zealand will be among the best places in the world for people to go to work and come home safe and sound”.

“Our vision is absolutely achievable but it will require an urgent, broad-based step-change in approach and a seismic shift in attitude,” says Mr Jager. “It will also require strong leadership, with businesses, workers, unions, industry organisations and the Government all having vital and shared roles to play in achieving this vision.”

And there is another problem. As Darien Fenton points out, National’s labour relations policy of giving more power to employers over workplace conditions works directly against the Taskforce’s strong recognition that it is vital to give workers more power over their safety conditions.

Finally, in an interesting article in today’s DomPost (as usual, not yet on-line)  labour lawyer Susan Hornsby-Geluk points out another Simon Bridges contradiction in National’s labour law changes:

Interestingly, Bridges has described these changes as “technical” and “moderate”, while also saying “it’s about leveling the playing field. At the moment, the provisions around collective bargaining are tipped in the union’s favour.”

I am not sure that these two statements sit comfortably together – either the changes are simply technical, or they tilt the balance of power. Surely they cannot be both at the same time.

I am sure. The changes are meant to tip the balance of power even more firmly in favour of employers. That does not bode well for better health and safety, or a zero-tolerance approach to deaths in the workplace.

116 comments on “75 workplace deaths a year ok then?”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    A zero tolerance to work place deaths? Sounds like it’s time for workers and unions to be able to strike, stop work or walk off unsafe work sites until identified and significant safety risks are rectified.

    How did it come about that workers aren’t allowed to do this these days anyway? They used to be able to.

    A zero tolerance to work place deaths with an over reliance on paper work processes and endless irrelevant audits is not what we need.

    • Arfamo 1.1

      The report into the DoL regarding its abject failure to protect Pike River miners sums up how things have got to this state. The Government Agency theoretically responsible for ensuring workplace safety is completely unable to do so and – with the connivance of successive governments under both Labour and National – didn’t even see itself as responsible for doing so. The report made it clear equal culpability with the mine operators lies with successive neo-lib governments and OSH/DoL chief executives for failing to provide adequate resourcing and systems to ensure worker safety. Budgetary constraints and the 20 years or so of neo-liberal philosophy that industries can be relied on to themselves protect their workers by the threat of prosecution for deaths or serious harm is self-evidently ineffective. Worker safety requires rigourous checks by a well-resourced government agency.

      • KJT 1.1.1

        If you think mining is bad have a look at shipping.

        After a national road show where professional seafarers criticised their cutting certificate and other requirements, to save industry costs, the latest discussion papers out show they are going to go ahead anyway.

        The regime that gave you the Rena.

        It is only sailors, wharfies and fishermen at risk though, so who cares!

        Unless we spill some diesel!

        There was more concern about a dozen blue penguins than the people at risk on the ship.

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          I’m very much looking forwards to Labour’s “zero tolerance for fatalities” industrial policies then.

          It’s time to shake up attitudes across the construction, forestry, road transport and shipping industries with far reaching change.

  2. infused 2

    what are the actual causes of these deaths?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1

      Are you Google challenged?

    • locus 2.2

      The causes of workplace deaths are many, but most fatalities are acombination of factors including failures in management systems…. and often ‘human factors’ e.g. a human error caused by stress, fatigue, poor equipment design, poor training, poor supervision, prolonged work hours, pressure to cut corners to reduce costs, etc. etc.

      A good start would be to require all workplaces to properly investigate every ‘near miss’, i.e. any incident which would have led to a fatality if just one safety barrier were removed – and then to put in place risk reduction measures which ensure that the incident will not reoccur

    • BM 2.3

      http://www.osh.govt.nz/resources/stats/fatalities-2012.shtml

      Most are just accidents.
      I don’t think the anti employer sentiment found within this thread is really justified going by above link.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.3.1

        Yes, it’s always easy to knock down Mr. Strawman, but don’t you feel a little bit ashamed of the total lack of anything relevant or substantive in your comments?

        • BM 2.3.1.1

          What?
          Your reply == total lack of anything relevant or substantive.
          I provided a link listing the workplace deaths of 2012, most if not all were just accidents, no one is to blame except maybe the person who died and I think they’ve already paid a big enough price.
          Unfortunately things go wrong and people die, that’s life.

          • Pascal's bookie 2.3.1.1.1

            Why are there fewer accidents pretty much everywhere else in the developed world?

            • BM 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Because Kiwis are a bunch of macho bad asses.
              Taking ridiculous and pointless risks are what we’re all about, it’s hard wired into us.

              • Pascal's bookie

                Hardwired into KPIs too, and “whaddareya mate? If you don’t like it get another job”

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                Worker exploitation and wingnut incompetence is hard wired into our employment safety culture. FIFY.

            • Populuxe1 2.3.1.1.1.2

              A combination of “she’ll be right” and an inability to sue neglegent employers because of ACC (though I am a believer in ACC).

              • Pascal's bookie

                How insightful.

                we have more accidents because of ‘she’ll be right.’

                No input from for example, KPIs for forestry workers then?

                • Populuxe1

                  It is a factor, it comes up in all the research as a factor, and KPIs mostly apply to production performance and are a bit difficult to monitor when your employee is out in the middle of a forrest somewhere.

                  • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                    There’s no need to insult employers’ intelligence: there are plenty of companies that manage things that are “a bit difficult” perfectly well. If you can’t set a high enough benchmark why should workers be exposed to the risk of being employed by you?

                    • Populuxe1

                      I’m afraid that sort of reasoning might work in other countries, but it runs into all sorts of difficulties when confronted with an economy almost entirely dependent on primary resource extraction and export. That’s one of the reasons we have ACC in the first place. I don’t like it, but I can understand it as a factor and that is reflected in the renumeration. Don’t even get me started on the nightmare of OSH and farmers…

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Nah, I prefer the approach of preventing the negligent and/or incompetent from running businesses, no matter the hardships this will impose on right-wingers.

                    • Populuxe1

                      “Nah, I prefer the approach of preventing the negligent and/or incompetent from running businesses, no matter the hardships this will impose on right-wingers.”

                      Admittedly that is a problem in New Zealand where bad management and small businesses are the norm, but were you to make our primary industries completely unviable (factoring our own economic vulnerabilities, distance from primary markets etc), I think you’s find that nearly four million people of all political stripes are going to be seriously inconvenienced. Of course, I realise Cartoon Marxists are only interested in stereotypes and cliches, so carry on.

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      It’ll make our primary industries unviable? Says who? Sounds like the sort of thing only a lazy cretin would believe.

                    • Populuxe1

                      “It’ll make our primary industries unviable? Says who? Sounds like the sort of thing only a lazy cretin would believe.”

                      I didn’t say it would, but I would be even more of a “lazy cretin” if I ignored the evidence of what was happening in New Zealand’s smaller communities where big companies don’t want the risk and small companies can’t afford to. It is a factor to be concerned about – you can make a job as safe as you like, but there has to be a job in the first place.

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Now all you have to do is demonstrate the link between high safety standards and high regional unemployment, but I’m sure that will be a doddle, you probably have the evidence to hand eh.

                      Or is it just what you reckon?

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.3.1.1.2

            Unfortunately when things go wrong and people die because of low safety standards, negligent employers belong in prison. That’s life, it’s just the way it is. Stop whinging and bleating and get over it.

            • Roy 2.3.1.1.2.1

              +1. Not only is that the way it is, that’s exactly the way it should be.

            • Populuxe1 2.3.1.1.2.2

              It’s a bit sad that you are unable to accept that it is possible for some of the fault to be with the employee on occasion – they aren’t robots, they can and do make choices, especially when they are expected to be autonymous.

              • Pascal's bookie

                Did he say that? Or are you just here to slay an army of strawmen, again.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                It’s a bit sad that the only aspect of this debate you can focus on is who is to blame. Sorry to expose and reject your stupid false frame, but that’s just the way it goes.

                Are you familiar with the phrase “to err is human”? If so, you might take a moment to reflect on the fact that while mistakes are inevitable, large numbers of “accidents” don’t have to be.

                Then you might consider where the responsibility for risk management strategy lies. And then you might even ask yourself why you are cuddling up to negligent and deadly employment practices.

                • Populuxe1

                  I was addressing blame because that’s the general theme of the post and very much the subject of most of the comments. I don’t seem anyone here addressing the need for new and modern equipment to remove workers from dangerous situations (though with the added risk of job losses), better communications technology, emergancy services coverage and response times etc, but I see many folk here just want to get the boot into employers like a bunch of cartoon Marxists.

                  • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                    In your haste to get commenting before putting your brain in gear you obviously neglected to read any of Locus’ remarks. Or perhaps this is top gear for you: that seems more likely.

                    • Populuxe1

                      Are you new to the internet? If I was responding directly to Locus it would be reflected in the positioning of my comment in the thread. Pay attention.

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      “I don’t seem (sic) anyone here addressing the need…”

                      Are you new to the English language?

                    • Populuxe1

                      Ok, one person commented out of dozens, Knucklehead. Panties unbunched?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Don’t forget Framu, Afarmo, Pascal’s Bookie, Paul, Cricklewood and Rosy.

                      Would you like your spade now?

                    • Populuxe1

                      Time stamps.

                    • locus

                      Populuxe you need to do a bit of research into accident causation. James Reason is a clear writer on this. Just 5 minutes reading will help you to engage in a more articulate way on this thread.

                      All accidents have causes, and causes often have causes. The aim is to identify the root cause and contributing factors, then you can put in place measures that prevent the accident ever happening again. Most accident causes are not expensive to fix.

                      Attitudes like yours, i.e. that it’s just a mistake or it’s fate our it’s just how the world is or it’s the will of god or the stupidity of the person killed or…
                      are a rational as ducking witches.

          • infused 2.3.1.1.3

            Was pretty much going to be my point. I knew most of these were accidental, and there’s not much to stop it.

            • Colonial Viper 2.3.1.1.3.1

              lol yeah

              except for better training, sufficient crewing, improved procedures (including fail safe check/stop procedures), designing safety in from the ground up, providing better rest, single tasking, continuous improvement programmes, increased safety budgets, independent checks and audits, criminal responsibility for managers and directors

              Apart from that stuff I agree with you there’s not much to be done

  3. clashman 3

    I cant think of a place I would want to die less while toiling for some rentier prick. Of course as far as Nact and their righty mates are concerned most of us arent really people anyway.

  4. It is actually more dangerous to be at home than to be at work, but don’t let truth and facts interfere with your communist campaign to kill off capitalism and/or your exploitation and subversion of the working sector in pursuit of this objective.

    Simon Bridges too is just another left wing idiot and a disgrace to the National Party.

    Safety at Work is actually a creditable cause but as happens in so many cases, it is being perverted and brought into disrepute by leftists/ communists attempting to turn that cause to political advantage.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1

      It is actually more dangerous to be at home than to be at work…

      So what?

      Stronger safety regulations kill Capitalism? All the countries where that hasn’t occurred must be outliers, eh.

    • locus 4.2

      The increasingly discredited bunch of idiots currently attempting to run NZ like a company should be held personally responsible for not setting a zero target for fatalities in the wokplace.

      All workplace accidents are avoidable and very few NZ employers take safety seriously if they know that the government isn’t going to hammer them for not reducing risk to as low as reasonabley practicable and for having inadequate safety management systems.

      Put in a safety system that isolates a hazard pfft – why bother if it costs money. Just issue the guy some PPE and exhort them to better safety practices…..

      • Populuxe1 4.2.1

        Suggesting that “all workplace accidents are avoidable” is just ridiculous – that’s utterly impossible and even with the best regulation there are going to be accidents because of random things or human error. And actually the government does seem to be taking it seriously (surprisingly enough):
        http://www.dol.govt.nz/whss/snapshot08-09/page03.asp

    • freedom 4.3

      “Simon Bridges too is just another left wing idiot and a disgrace to the National Party.”

      and we have a new contender for ‘funniest line ever written’

  5. dumrse 5

    The workers party had 9 years to upgrade the policy and did SFA. National makes a start and off you go…..bleet bleet bleet. Zero harm should be the policy, lets help to get it there.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1

      …by reducing union membership and cutting wages.

      *cough* Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 2002.

  6. BM 6

    Employee stupidity would be the number one killer.
    You can provide all the safety gear in the world but if an employee won’t use it, what can you do.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.1

      You can receive a fine or go to prison; that’s what you can do.

      Funny how all the “get tough” wingnuts start mumbling and looking at their feet when the harm comes from poor workplace safety. No longer sentences for that, eh boys and girls.

      • BM 6.1.1

        Once again shifting responsibility to some one else and you wonder why people don’t give a shit.
        As an employer you have to provide the safety gear and training otherwise you get hammered by OSH.
        Standing over your employee telling them to follow procedure and use the safety gear is not really practical.
        The employer can only do so much.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.1.1.1

          The only one who appears not to give a shit is you, BM.

          • Populuxe1 6.1.1.1.1

            That’s not an answer, you were shifting responsibility. Perhaps you fail to realise that the more responsibility is shifted to the employer, the more control he or she has over their employee. It’s the road to surfdom.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.1.1.1.1.1

              The responsibility for workplace safety resides with the employer. That’s the law, not some fictional “shift”. Why are you cuddling up to law-breakers? Perhaps you fail to realise that your critical insights are about as deep as a puddle.

              • Populuxe1

                The responsibility of the employer is to provide the rules, systems and equipment to minimise risk. The responsibility of the employee is to follow the rules, use the systems and use the technology to minimise risk. There is, however, an issue of deciding what is an adequate margin of risk, and “zero” risk is not realistic.

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  Oh yes, you always have to weigh up your workers’ lives and the possibility of a fine or jail against the profits you can make. When you’re a sociopath.

                  • Populuxe1

                    What a truly idiotic statement. Consider fire fighters and police officers for example – I suppose if they get injured or killed in the line of duty of saving human lives it’s always going to be the government’s fault as their employer. And if doctor suffers an injury or infects themselves with HIV or something while trying to save a life, that’s their employer’s fault too?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Did the police, fire-fighters and doctor all follow well-established safety procedures that were enforced by their employer? Or were the employers encouraged to profit from low standards by neo-liberal scum pushing free-market kool-aid? Can you expand a bit more on the tedious minutiae of what passes for your imagination?

                    • Populuxe1

                      “Did the police, fire-fighters and doctor all follow well-established safety procedures that were enforced by their employer? Or were the employers encouraged to profit from low standards by neo-liberal scum pushing free-market kool-aid? Can you expand a bit more on the tedious minutiae of what passes for your imagination?”

                      Um, again? In English? Or any language not Cartoon Marxist gibberish? I could go out the door today, take every reasonable precaution and still get killed by an out of control car. Things become considerably less predictable in situations involving armed offenders or burning houses and surprisingly little of that has to do with “neo-liberal scum pushing free-market kool-aid”, unless you are trying to tell me that fire is a keen supporter of John Key.

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Yes, and if you were killed by an out-of-control car the driver would find themselves before the beak. Or perhaps they work for you and you neglected to ensure the car was safe, in which case society could rid itself of a liability.

                    • Populuxe1

                      “Yes, and if you were killed by an out-of-control car the driver would find themselves before the beak. Or perhaps they work for you and you neglected to ensure the car was safe, in which case society could rid itself of a liability.”

                      Not really the point – the fact is that risk is an inherent part of life, and in some jobs it greatly amplified by the dangerous nature of the work. You cannot eliminate danger entirely from inherently dangerous jobs – and indeed in some cases, emergency services, astronauts, and military, the job is to specifically put themselves in harms way. Arguing around that is completely illogical.

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Yes, and had I argued that danger can be eliminated you’d have a point, but since I didn’t. I’m left wondering where you conceived the idea that I did. We already had enough evidence of the link between conservatism and stupidity as it was.

                    • Populuxe1

                      “Accidents are by definition avoidable. What’s wrong with aiming for 100% avoidance?”

                      Ring any bells?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Ah. I think I see the problem here: you have conflated “eliminating danger” and “avoiding accidents”. I recommend the Oxford English Dictionary.

                • locus

                  Populuxe, zero risk is not what this thread is about. Zero tolerance for neanderthal thinking about risk prevention is what is being discussed.

                  Risk of fatalities and serious accidents can be reduced massively below the current level we experience in NZ cf other countries, and that requires smarter thinking and eradication of the superstitious, fatalistic, individualistic, prejudiced sneering that pervades.

                  Part of that eradication involves workers having the right to being involved in incident and near miss investigations and in setting goals to improve hazard prevention in their workplace.

            • Arfamo 6.1.1.1.1.2

              The road to surfdom is Taranaki’s coastal highway.

        • locus 6.1.1.2

          BM you desrve to have to work in a NZ workplace!

          NZ companies, thier management and their shonky Safety Mangement Systems (or lack of), are truly and seriously culpable for the injuries and deaths in their workplaces – NOT the employees.

          It’s high time that NZ had sufficient and competent Regulators backed up by legislation that gives them teeth to punish the management. In fact I’d recommend introducing the Corporate Manslaughter legislation like they have in the UK

          Just so you know how utterly embarrassing the NZ workplace injury statistics are: the oil industry worldwide has a Total Recordable Injury Rate of less than 2 injuries per million hours worked. That is a high hazard industry .

          In New Zealand each year there are around 200,000 people being harmed at work

          Assuming our workforce all work a 40 hour week this means that we have Total Recordable Injury Rate of around 56 injuries per million hours worked. i.e. 28 times as bad as the oil industry.

          Clearly our managers in NZ have a lot to learn about managing safety in their workplaces

          • BM 6.1.1.2.1

            Pal I’ve worked in the trades, I know what people do and don’t do.
            Compared to what is was like 20 years ago, it’s nanny state on steroids these days.
            For example, I remember one job site I was on, hard hats and safety glasses had to be worn at all times.
            It was really funny, having to wear your hard hat and safety glasses while sitting in side eating your lunch, no chance of getting tomato sauce in your eye on that job site.

            • Paul 6.1.1.2.1.1

              Nanny state. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

              • locus

                Paul, by “nanny state” i take it you are referring to a sensible left-wing government that will enact laws that curb the selfishness and ignorance of a ‘neo-liberal – free market, i.e. profit above everything’ State, which is hell bent on removing all workers’ rights to get involved in their own safety in the workplace?

                • Paul

                  Yup that’s what I mean!
                  Let’s recapture some of the language that the neo-liberal fundies have hijacked.
                  I’d much prefer a nanny state than the ‘there is no such thing as society’ Thatcherite state we presently have.

            • locus 6.1.1.2.1.2

              That’s the whole point… You were being asked to wear personal protection equipment by an ignorant manager…. There would be no need for PPE if the safety management system in the workplace removed the hazard or effectively isolated it.

              Time to educate managers in NZ and make them accountable.

              And as for self-employed trades people… how about a society run by neo-liberal twits who think that getting rid of ACC is a good idea. Just how many of the ‘I’m so staunch’ kiwi tradesmen would take out insurance against injuries?

              • Paul

                People who repeat that ‘PC’, ‘nanny state’ mantra should learn about Pike River, the CTV building and leaky homes. If only we had had a state that cared about regulating industry, then all of these disasters could have been averted.
                The death rate in the forestry industry is just more evidence that NZ does not care for its people, but prioritises the interests of big corporations.
                The nanny state mantra is utter discredited nonsense but an easy slogan for those not interested in looking at the evidence. It is also lazy thinking.
                New Zealand’s problem is ‘big brother’ state not nanny state, with new laws being passed to remove our right to protest.

            • Te Reo Putake 6.1.1.2.1.3

              “For example, I remember one job site I was on, hard hats and safety glasses had to be worn at all times.
              It was really funny, having to wear your hard hat and safety glasses while sitting in side eating your lunch, …”

              Anyone else here think that BM’s co-workers were taking the piss out of him by making him wear the gear for no good reason?

              • BM

                Wasn’t just me.
                It was part of the site safe conditions, if you didn’t comply you were kicked off site.

              • joe90

                Anyone else here think that BM’s co-workers were taking the piss out of him by making him wear the gear for no good reason?

                When having smoko in the donko is sitting in side eating your lunch I’d say you’re making shit up.

                • Populuxe1

                  Then clearly you don’t read the safety signs on building sites very often. In Christchurch we see them all the time.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    And it’s equally clear you don’t visit construction site donkos, Pop. I do, including ones on Site Safe construction sites.

                    Anybody wearing safety goggles while eating their lunch indoors is going to be laughed off site. Which is why I reckon BM was the victim of a practical joke (or he was making it up, which seems just as likely).

                    • Populuxe1

                      And yet you’re wrong. The signs state clearly that when on suite you must report to the foreman and wear helmet etc AT ALL TIMES. Blanket rules are easier to enforce, and say, for example, there was an emergency, no one is going to get caught short. You are clearly making shit up.

                • cricklewood

                  He’s not, I have been on sites where they must be worn at all times from the moment you come in the gate to the moment you leave. The blanket rules are easier to monitor and enforce ie there is no excuse and if you are on site without your gear.

                  They tended to be the best sites as they often had a dedicated full time safety officer who was constantly circulating making sure everyone was complying with the Health and Safety plans, had been inducted, was wearing PPE and organised weekly and special safety briefings depending on what was happening on the site that particular day/week. If you weren’t compliant you were out the gate until you were and if you were caught again you were out the gate on a permanant basis.

                  Interestingly most pricing schedules had an item along the lines of allow to provide all required health and safety documentation, attend all safety meetings attend inductions etc. One head contractor during final negotiations commented that ‘They weren’t anal about Health and Safety like some of their competitors so we didn’t need to allow the amount of dollars we had’ (I refused to drop our figure)

                  It spelt out really clearly why we need a much stronger regulation governing this as some contractors were cutting corners or providing the bare minimum on H&S to win jobs. Certainly wasn’t an even playing field and I know which sites I prefered to be on.

    • rosy 6.2

      When identifying hazards and protecting employees from hazards is done in ways that other comparable countries do, when NZ has the same worker protection, workplace safety regulations and inspections that other comparable countries do, then I might think your point was debatable. As it is it’s just making it up.

      • BM 6.2.1

        Are you comparing us to the Scandinavians again.

        • rosy 6.2.1.1

          Nah, I’ll go for Australia and the UK this time. The Taskforce Report states that

          On the basis of international comparisons using New Zealand’s historical SIOIs and data from other jurisdictions provided to the international labour Organisation (ILO), New Zealand was identified as having a high rate of deaths compared with many OECD (Organisation for Economic co-operation and Development) countries. The data indicated that we perform particularly poorly compared with Western countries like Australia and the UK, which have similar market economies and robens-based regulatory systems

          (UK 0.6 and Australia 1.9)

          Although the worker fatality rate of 4.1 per 100,000 workers in New Zealand is quite a bit more than the 1.4 in Finland, 1.5 in Sweden and the EU average of 2.1

          • Poission 6.2.1.1.1

            The almost obvious problem is that in each of those jurisdictions,is that they can be sued. Acc precludes this here and hence we have a number of interesting problems.such as who is responsible of a specific site accident The owner,the contractor,the temp agency.

            There was an unfortunate accident in CHCH recently where a truck drove over a worker who lost his leg.

            The truck was a third party vehicle driven by a temp worker on his first day of work.The victim was a temp in his second week of employment.The site owners a transport company will not have the accident on their Acc claims.

            Who is accountable?

            • Populuxe1 6.2.1.1.1.1

              Very good point. I am definitely a supporter of ACC all the way, but the reality is that the threat of a law suit does have a direct impact on the behaviour of employers and employees.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.2.1.1.1.2

              “Who is accountable”? No-one, but the responsibility lies with the National Party and its broken employment laws.

            • rosy 6.2.1.1.1.3

              It’s hard to argue ACC being an obvious problem when other legal factors are not taken into account, for example corporate manslaughter laws (UK and Australia), other criminal liability for corporations (e.g. Sweden), regulatory and inspection environments and general attitudes to worker safety.

    • Roy 6.3

      You can make it a condition of their employment that they do use it. That’s what happened in workplaces I have worked in overseas.

      • BM 6.3.1

        Probably a lot easier to let go staff than what it is here.
        Good old NZ, You can smoke weed at work, attack the bosses wife and still end up getting a payout for unfair dismissal.

        • Te Reo Putake 6.3.1.1

          Cites needed, obviously.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.3.1.2

          It’s very very simple BM: if you want to avoid the employment court, all you have to do is not break the law, how hard is that?

          Why are you cuddling up to crims?

          • BM 6.3.1.2.1

            I’m trying to be more socialist.
            Got a bit of a way to get before I reach these sort of standards, but I’II keep on trying.

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/8616330/Parties-would-change-three-strikes-law

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.3.1.2.1.1

              Yes, isn’t it great news that the opposition parties have pledged to reduce crime by abolishing your favourite bullshit. With any luck they’ll abandon the beyond-stupid “get tough” policies wholesale, and get your fucking shameful recidivism rate down.

              That means less crime and fewer victims, but you’ve never adequately explained why you support policies that create more. I think it’s because you’re as thick as pigshit, personally.

        • framu 6.3.1.3

          bullshit – utter bullshit

          pretty certain turning up wasted and assault would fall under gross misconduct in any employment contract

  7. locus 7

    It’s inspirational to hear the Chairman of Shell in New Zealand clearly stating that we need a seismic change in attitude towards safety in NZ and that Unions and Workers need to be at the same table as Government and business leaders to achieve this.

  8. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8

    I am not sure the problem is regulatory.

    This report from 2001 shows workplace accident rates between 1985 and 1993:

    http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/7/1/22.full#ref-2

    They are between about 3.5 per 100,000 and 5 per 100,000. The lowest rates are after the 1992 Act. The current rate, according to the Taskforce report is 4.

    This is about what it was in 1990, under the much-loved pre-neo-liberal-wankers-destroying-everything-we-hold-dear regime and 1.5 deaths per 100,000 lower than it was in 1985.

    • Populuxe1 8.1

      Because for every two steps forward Labour takes, Nationally only takes one step back – eventually you get progress regardless.

    • vto 8.2

      One of the main contributing factors to the deaths of 29 men at Pike River was regulatory. Or rather, the lack of regulatory. The deadly idea that leaving most everything up to unregulated free market because its in the interests of business to not have accidents. That dead dumb idea about regulation.

      29 in one hit by the deregulated free market.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8.2.1

        If the problem was regulatory, wouldn’t you expect death rates to be lower in a more tightly regulated environment?

        • vto 8.2.1.1

          How then did the Royal Commission of Enquiry come to the conclusion that the lack of regulation was one of the main causes of the 29 men being killed?

          Statistics can lie. The Enquiry has a bit more cred in this real life example.

          But you know lots of peple want to deny facts to suit their political agenda even when it concerns people being killed so …………….

          • Arfamo 8.2.1.1.1

            Most of those people will say, I suspect, that they don’t want people being killed at work. It’s just that they want it to be someone else’s responsibility to ensure people aren’t killed at work and they don’t want their taxes to be increased to make it the government’s responsibility, like it used to be.

            • vto 8.2.1.1.1.1

              Pike River is the most stark example of the failure of the deregulation model.

              That people turn a blind eye to this reflects on them and their blinkered approach – the blinkers don’t even budge when people are killed. Example – gormless above

    • freedom 8.3

      How odd that the study’s NZ figures of 85-93 include a long period (roughly 88-93) where large scale building projects in NZ were going through a slump. Is it really surprising that the number of deaths per 1000 people was low. Almost as if there were fewer people doing the more dangerous jobs.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8.3.1

        No, freedom. Any death is a result of regulatory failure. There is no other explanation.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 8.3.1.1

          I don’t think that’s fair, Biscuit. More likely that regulation can provide a robust framework for business to operate safely in, to prevent safety standards falling to National Party levels. Good employers don’t need regulations, but we’re not talking about good employers, are we?

          • cricklewood 8.3.1.1.1

            Most employers and occupations have been are cleaning up their act in terms of providing appropriate gear, training and focus. I would like to see regulation that once a site reaches a certain size or carries certain risk factors they must have a full time on site safety officer tasked with nothing else as it would bringing the stragglers up to spec and level the field.

            I think the real problem area will be with smaller crews/individuals working in what are really quite isolated or non visible work areas. I have over the years seen people do bloody ridiculous things by choice rather than use a bit of extra effort to do it safely. It’s small stuff like climbing up on to the very top platform on a ladder and over reaching rather than climb down and get the taller one off the truck, in forestry fellers playing dominoes with the trees (you scarf and back cut a series of trees without quite toppling them and then fell one which knocks the next over and so on) Arborists not bothering to put Chaps on as it’s only one or two cuts.
            How we cure that sort of shit I don’t know but it does seem ingrained in some people and as the low hanging gains get picked off we will reach a level that can be perhaps attributed to Darwin.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 8.3.1.1.1.1

              Remove incentives that reward the behaviour, require employers to make following safety standards a condition of employment, major employment legislation reform etc. Helen Kelly has covered this pretty well.

              Although the Darwin option is quite tempting – it would certainly reduce the number of wingnuts going forward.

              • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                require employers to make following safety standards a condition of employment

                Because, of course the HASIE Act doesn’t require this at all.

              • cricklewood

                Funnily enough it was just as bad in Council where there was zero reward or incentive for risking your skin verses private or contracting work where there was opportunity for additional reward if you took a few risks to raise you’re output.
                I actually tend to put a fair bit of it down to laziness as I can’t really figure any other reason why you would want to take on any additional risk especially when there is no need too. Same reason people can’t be arsed with a seatbelt when they are driving on or off the road even though it is fitted and takes 2 seconds.

            • cricklewood 8.3.1.1.1.2

              Reading the ‘randomly selected week’ in the report.
              There were a couple of road accidents with causation not noted so while counted as workplace they could have been caused by entirely external factors that could not be solved through regulation.
              A collection of farmers doing really stupid things with or on their machinery, again really hard to see how regulation will stop someone from driving their tractor or quad in unsuitable terrain or indeed make them put the seatbelt on.
              A dozer falling off a ‘road’ at the quarry which is definatly one where regulation could help.
              The other deaths were what you would call a freak accident with the Tornado that tipped over the tilt slabs in Helensville.

              • locus

                When you have laws that focus on employers having to demonstrate to regulators that their risk assessment and risk prevention methods are adequate then you start to change the paradigm.

                Right now the paradigm in NZ is that protection and mitigation of the severity of the consequences – once an accident has happened – is what HSE is all about. In NZ we need to start focussing on the most important element of risk management, which is to prevent the accident happening in the first place.

                There’s also a serious misconception about what constitutes ‘prevention’ of accidents…. most people in NZ kneejerk into solutions thinking e.g. give workers extra training and extra rules. This is the wrong approach.

                The UK and Norway offshore safety regulations and regulatory regimes require employers to conduct cause and effect studies and then put in place smart engineering and failsafe systems which have to be inspected and tested to demonstrate that they continue to function as designed.

                The result of the UK and Norway regulations has been a huge increase in the competency of organisations to identify and control hazards – with fantastic results in terms of reducing injuries and major accidents.

                • Arfamo

                  That’s the way I’d like to see it done. I can google them, but do you have a link to any existing article or analysis on this?

                  • locus

                    Arfamo,

                    You can find out about the legislation and also get a heap of related information on the UK HSE website
                    http://www.hse.gov.uk/offshore/safetycases.htm

                    and the Norwegian PSA website
                    http://www.ptil.no/main-page/category9.html?lang=en_US

                    The offshore safety regulations i’m referring to are for operating hazardous installations (drilling rigs, production platforms). They grew out of lessons learnt from disasters in the oil and gas industry, notably Piper Alpha (ref. Cullen Report), and from other industries’ experiences, particularly Aviation and Chemical Processing (ref. Seveso).

                    While the regulations are for oil and gas facilities, the methods they specify for risk analysis and risk reduction are applicable to all workplaces and facilities in any industry where there are hazards which can cause multiple fatalities – usually this means accidents involving poisonous gas releases, fires, explosions, structural collapses, major oil spills.

                    The UK & Norway Regulations require companies to obtain permits or licences to operate before they are allowed to commission oil and gas facilities offshore.
                    The way to get a permit is have an independent expert to carry out an audit (Verification) which shows that you have demonstrated risk has been reduced to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).

                    What you have to do to demonstrate ALARP is described in a number of Safety Standards and Regulations. Simply put this means:
                    – Systematically identifying all of the hazards, modelling and assessing the worst case accidents to understand the potential for harm to people, environment or assets, and then quantifying risk.
                    – The company then has to put in place barriers to prevent the accident occurring and also to mitigate the effects if an accident does occur. Each of the barriers has to demonstrate how it reduces risk.

                    The ‘barriers’ include: safe design, systems to monitor and control the hazards in the processes, intrinsically safe equipment (i.e. won’t initiate a fire or explosion), automated alarms, shut-down systems, automated fire fighting systems, life saving and escape and evacuation systems.

                    But the Regulations also require details of the management systems, to show that all the barriers will be maintained to function as designed, and that the frontline workers are also protected by suficient information about the barriers, safe working procedures, ongoing risk monitoring & reduction.

                    And finally…. of importance but of least effect in terms of risk reduction, proper PPE.

                    The overall principle is neatly described in NORSOK Standards:

                    “Probability-reducing measures have to be put in place prior to consequence-reducing measures. When implementing consequence-reducing measures, collective safety measures shall take precedence over individual safety
                    measures. Results from risk assessments shall be made known to all parties involved in a way that is suited to the different target groups, and used actively in the planning and execution of the work. The risk assessments shall include all phases and activities connected with the work, and shall be carried out prior to the start of the activities.” (NORSOK)

        • freedom 8.3.1.2

          all things being grossly unequal gormy, 😉 regulatory insanity undeniably plays its part in safety issues across NZ.

          Take the case of OSH instructions that were introduced in the mid 90’s, for emptying a fat fryer. The first line was a doozey:
          ; First wait till contents of fryer have cooled.

          let that sink in
          too often rules for workplaces suggest those writing them, have rarely worked in them

          Safety is a learned response. ‘Do it this way’ books look great on the shelf but unless the encouragement is given to read them then there they sit and there they stay. The best encouragement is discovering that the (im)practical reality of their application has been fully appreciated and understood. All too often we know this to be a distant fantasy.

          Perhaps the best example of regulatory lunacy of late is in the building industry, where (loosely interpreted) single story dwellings must have a full scaffold erected during any remedial work that requires the employee or contractor to be at the mind-numbing height of 1 meter off the ground.

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  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
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    23 hours ago
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    3 days ago
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  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
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    4 days ago
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    4 days ago
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    4 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
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    5 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
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    5 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
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    5 days ago
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    5 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
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    6 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
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    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
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    6 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
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    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
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    6 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
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    6 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
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    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
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    6 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
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    7 days ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
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    7 days ago
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    7 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
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    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
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    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
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    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
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    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
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    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
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    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
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    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
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    1 week ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
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    1 week ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
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    1 week ago
  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
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    1 week ago
  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
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    1 week ago
  • Transit between Australia and New Zealand
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • $100 million to redeploy workers
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • More support for wood processing
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    2 weeks ago
  • Govt steps in to protect Air New Zealand
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    2 weeks ago
  • Stronger border measures to protect NZers from COVID-19
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    2 weeks ago
  • Action on indoor gatherings and events to protect public health
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    2 weeks ago