Recent deaths highlight need for job safety action

Thursday, 04 September, 2008

New Zealand’s Department of Labour recently put out a call to businesses to take action to make their workplaces safer in order to curb the number of workplace fatalities.

"Nobody should die from doing their job," the department's head of workplace health and safety, Craig Armitage, said.

"These deaths have taken a huge human and financial toll on the victims, their families, friends and workmates, as well as on those businesses and on the New Zealand economy. They are a grim reminder of how important it is for all businesses — big and small — and workers to make basic investments to keep people safe at work."

A disturbing number of workplace deaths occur in sectors where small businesses predominate. Of the 53 workplace deaths investigated by the department in the past 12 months, 20 occurred in agriculture and nine in construction, showing there’s still work to do to manage the potentially lethal risks of things like farm vehicles and falling from heights.

To help businesses actively manage their health and safety risks, the department offers a free online tool, Hazard Handler, providing practical information on how to identify and manage general and industry-specific health and safety hazards. Small businesses can download their work and use it to keep track of workplace hazards, their safety systems and staff health and safety training. Small businesses in certain industries can also use it to apply for the ACC Workplace Safety Discounts program.

Identifying and managing hazards is a key requirement of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, with amendments in 2002.

Users can download a personalised Hazard Register from, recording all the useful information provided during the assessment.


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