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Deborah McMillan’s story

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, August 3rd, 2015 - 36 comments
Categories: employment, health and safety, labour, national, same old national, workers' rights - Tags:

H&S protest 291 crosses

My husband Shane was killed at work.

He was working for a small crew on a forestry site on the Napier-Taupo road when it happened. It has changed my life, and the life of my beautiful daughter Skyla, forever.

She wasn’t even two years old when Shane died. Now as she gets older and understands more of what happened it just gets even harder. It’s something no family should ever have to go through.

But it happens to dozens of families every year. That’s why I’m never going to stop fighting for better health and safety laws. It’s why I’m putting my name, and Skyla’s name, to Labour’s changes to fix National’s weakened health and safety bill.

I want you to join us. Together we can make MPs like Peter Dunne and the Maori Party understand that they need to back these changes too. We can tell them how important this is to so many New Zealanders. We can get them to fix the law and help make all of us and our loved ones safer at work.

I sat in the public gallery at Parliament last Thursday while the government debated this law. They kept using the word “balance”, like there was some kind of acceptable number of people killed at work that you could “balance” against companies making more profit.

That’s wrong – everyone should be able to go to work and know that their lives aren’t at risk just because the government put making money ahead of their safety.

Thank you,

Deborah McMillan
Mother and health and safety campaigner

If you want to add your support to Labour’s proposed changes the electronic petition is here.

36 comments on “Deborah McMillan’s story ”

  1. Tory 1

    Let’s start with compulsory drug and alcohol testing

    • mickysavage 1.1

      You idiot. Forestry workers are being killed because of lax safety standards and poor pay and extended working hours which mean that accidents are very likely to occur.

      Your “lets blame the victim” line is an insult.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      The Supreme Pointlessness of Drug Testing at Work

      This industry has relied on superficially intuitive arguments for drug testing: It’ll make employees use drugs less often and it’ll ensure a more efficient workplace. But those arguments have some significant holes.

      I got an idea: How about we do something worthwhile and not waste our time drug testing.

      • b waghorn 1.2.1

        “”So what does a reasonable drug-testing regimen look like? Frone’s view is that it should be kept in place for jobs in which safety is the concern—forklift operators, truck drivers—but phased out elsewhere. “”
        Did you read this bit??

        • Draco T Bastard

          One persons got a view, it’s not my view because the evidence indicates that it’s all pointless.

          Now, if you wanted to test for impairment I’d be all for it. It’d probably save time, money and peoples lives.

    • Molly 1.3

      … for the politicians who are failing to address this situation?…

      Because we all know that this is not a noticeable contributing factor in the safety and fatality statistics of our workers. Or did you just comment reflexively – without any knowledge or consideration?

    • b waghorn 1.4

      Most bush crews already have some form of testing or at least a provision for testing if the boss sees it as necessary.

    • Rosie 1.5

      Tory, you are being deeply disrespectful of the grieving of Shane McMillan’s wife and daughter.

      Had you been following Deborah’s story you would know that her husband was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs during his work shifts, rather he was fatigued by the long hard hours of work he was compelled to do or risk losing the contract.

      Your comment is unhelpful and cruel.

      Furthermore, going by your reckoning that A &D is a major contributor to workplace injury and death we would have to be a nation of wasters to have a workplace death rate 8 times higher than the UK.

      Why do you think that is? Surely that can’t be anything to do with regulation eh?

    • The Fairy Godmother 1.6

      Lets have compulsory drug testing for all cabinet ministers and if impaired they are out. There’s an idea, could improve work safety for everyone.

    • NZSage 1.7

      My first reaction to you response was to request it be removed. Now it can stay as a shinning beacon to the attitude, callousness and insensitivity of you and your “tory” sort.

      Idiot is too kind a description.

  2. ropata 2

    Typical callous Tory. Would drug testing have saved the Pike River miners? When NZ workers have the worst accident rate in the western world we need to look at all factors and primarily it’s a failure of government to regulate and monitor dangerous work places.
    The Kiwi can do attitude and or reputation for working hard and getting stuff done can be a weakness. The culture of working long hours on low pay and expected to produce results no matter what, is costing us big time

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1


      The problem is the drive for profit for the few from the work of the many.

  3. Dorothy B 3

    “Stand up and be counted” you are doing it really well Deborah and Skyla and I am sure Shane would be proud of you.
    It is not easy to understand that in the year 2015 that a government would still be so ignorant and callous
    as it defies intelligent thinking and planning. Our country will always depend on good workers and I
    value your efforts to remind us of this fact.

  4. Tory 4

    Ropata, stoned or drug/alchohol affected staff are also a hazard in the workplace. Comulsary testing would provide additional info when looking at accident systemic failures rather than your assertion that it’s all the governments fault.

    • McFlock 4.1

      Yes, affected staff can be a hazard in most workplaces (some of my best coding has been done while hungover).

      Testing for traces of drugs does not address impairment, nor does it address fatigue or simply not being able to respond in time any more.
      Your idea for compulsory testing is expensive and does not address the problem. It does, however, serve the tory inclination to control the private lives of employees.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      Testing for drugs does nothing except waste time and money as I pointed out above. The blame for the excessive deaths in NZ lies almost solely with the bosses and owners – not the workers.

  5. ropata 5

    Hey Tory do you have any statistics to back up your theory of stoned workers everywhere? And why are you obsessed with blaming the victims rather than looking for broader solutions?

  6. esoteric pineapples 6

    I feel sorry for the driver of the train that crashed into the end of the Melling Line in Wellington because the brakes failed. He lost his job because he had the remnants of marijuana in his system although this had nothing to do with the crash. He saved a lot of people from injury and possible death when he rushed back and told everyone in the carriage to brace for the crash.

    Meanwhile, no one has been held accountable yet for the actual cause of the train’s brakes failing. This was likely due to decisions made by people higher up when purchasing the trains.

    In this case, the fact a worker had drugs in a system is being used to deflect responsibility from those in charge.

    • Rosie 6.1

      +1 esoteric pineapples

    • Meanwhile, no one has been held accountable yet for the actual cause of the train’s brakes failing.

      Here you’ve hit on exactly why employers find drug-testing so convenient. No need to investigate when you can just sack the scapegoat and write the accident off as caused by “drug-crazed employee.”

  7. b waghorn 7

    For all those anti drug testing people here pull you’re head out of you’re Arse! please.
    It is an issue in the forestry and while I didn’t care if my workmates and me where stoned or hung over when I was planting and pruning as soon as you step up to the logging side of things the need to be switched on is key to all involved.

    • McFlock 7.1

      Impairment is an issue.

      A piss test doesn’t test impairment.

      • b waghorn 7.1.1

        I realize its a blunt instrument but weed is still illegal .
        There is the spit test although I admit to knowing nothing about its pros/ cons or efficacy.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I realize its a blunt instrument but weed is still illegal .

          And what’s that got to do with anything?

          Also, you should probably look to see what’s actually illegal about marijuana.

          • b waghorn

            I don’t want to turn this post into a drug discussion next time weed comes up in om I’ll try and clear up what I meant.

        • McFlock

          Rather than paying for a spit test, they should probably pay for some sort of test that measures attention, focus, coordination and reaction time. And then if someone fails they can be asked why, and tested if drugs or alcohol are suspected.

          • miravox

            A “test that measures attention, focus, coordination and reaction time

            This is a sensible option because it picks up all sorts of impairment that can then be dealt with in ways that reflect the cause of that impairment.

            The trouble is sensible doesn’t seem suitable for rabid, over-emotional types (far too many of them in positions of authority) who prejudicially blame workers for pretty much all workplace health and safety problems.

    • …as soon as you step up to the logging side of things the need to be switched on is key to all involved.

      Absolutely. So, as soon as one of these drug-testing rip-off merchants comes up with useful ways to test for impairment, forestry companies would do well to implement them. Until then, it’s just ritual humiliation to let workers know where they stand.

      In any case, judging from the news reports it would be way more useful for them to come up with a test for fatigue…

    • CrashCart 7.3

      When I was working as a comercial fisherman there were a number of the crew who smoked weed. It is possible it could have contributed to an accident. It of course would have been blamed in stead of the times we worked for up to 40 hours straight with no rest, or in the middle of the night with no proper lighting or when the boats trottle wasn’t workign properly so speed couldn’t be adjusted unless you went down to the engine room.

      Most of the guys who smoked weed did so because the job was so bloody stressful and dangerous you wouldn’t be able to get your self up on deck unless you were taking something.

  8. greywarshark 8

    b waghorn
    Thanks for reality check. Good to hear a comment from a knowledgable person.

  9. ropata 9

    When my work mate fell into the slag pit and broke his back he wasn’t on any drugs

    When a tradesman was crushed by rollers there was no hint of drugs

    When the site “safety” officer fell off a platform and died nobody blamed drugs

    When I got hit by a forklift and nearly lost my foot I was totally straight.

    Some work places just have an utterly shit safety culture and that needs to change, or shut them down

  10. gsays 10

    a belated kia kaha to deborah and skyla.

    i was moved by your dignified protest at the sky/national party conference.

    i am humbled by your strength and grace.

  11. Tory 11

    Rosie, you are wrong and if you take time to read the report by Helen Kelly you will see that a posative test to dope (post death) was recorded. This is a contributing factor in the systemic failure, like it or not. Systemic failure is a list of compounding issues and use of dope prior to work will no doubt add to the problem, in my opinion.

    • ropata 11.1

      Yes, but THC can remain in the system for weeks with zero effect on performance. And why do we have a culture of treating manual workers like this?

  12. millsy 12

    But it is ok for bosses to overwork thier workers to the point where they are tired and threaten to sack them if they want a break. Testing is just invading workers privacy and a form of control.

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