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New workplace safety laws bring drop in accidents

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Businesses are reaping the benefits from changes to workplace health and safety legislation.
Alden Williams/Fairfax NZ

Businesses are reaping the benefits from changes to workplace health and safety legislation. One year on from changes to workplace health and safety legislation, a Nelson compliance expert says the region’s businesses and employees are reaping the benefits. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 came into force on April 4 last year and replaced the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Source: Tim O’Connell at Stuff. Check out the full article here.

The bill is part of the package of changes that have been introduced following the Pike River tragedy and subsequent reviews which observed a poor health and safety record in New Zealand. According to Worksafe NZ figures, 316 people died in New Zealand workplace incidents reported between 2011 and May 25, 2017 – an average of 45 annually. The worst year during that period was 2013 when 57 people died.

So far in 2017, 22 fatalities have occurred, with Waikato (4) Canterbury, Gisborne and Northland (3 each) the main regions impacted. No deaths have occurred at a Nelson or Tasman workplace this year, although 12 deaths were reported between 2011 and 2016. According to Worksafe’s Towards 2020 document, NZ was making positive progress towards the target reductions for fatal and serious non-fatal injury.

Fatal work-related injuries are at the lowest rate since the data series began in 2002 with 2.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 fulltime equivalent employees, as were serious non-fatal work-related injuries, with 15 injuries per 100,000. This rate has decreased each year since 2011. Work-related injuries resulting in more than a week away from work are currently sitting above the 2020 target of 8.4 at 11.9 per 1000 fulltime equivalent employees.

Despite some progress, WorkSafe estimate data suggested that New Zealand’s fatal injury rate remained higher in comparison to Australia and the United Kingdom. Nelson-based health and safety consultant Peter Fisher has been involved with workplace compliance for more than 40 years, both independently and with the Department of Labour. Fisher said the current legislation was “sitting where it should be”, although some improvements could be made towards having clearer definitions around  serious harm in some areas. Read more.