NZ Workplace Health and Safety Strategy report released

Monday, 01 December, 2008

The New Zealand Department of Labour recently released the third annual snapshot report of the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy for New Zealand to 2015 — a 10-year strategy launched in 2005, aiming to lift New Zealand’s health and safety performance, enhance the productivity of New Zealand’s businesses and reduce the number of Kiwis who are seriously hurt or killed at work.

“This shared vision involves working together to reduce the work toll,” said the department’s head of Workplace Health and Safety, Craig Armitage. “There are still too many incidences of work-related disease, injury and death. Government and the private sector need to work together to bring about the changes needed to make our workplaces safe and healthy.”

One of the priorities of the strategy is to reduce accident rates among Maori and Pasifika workers, who have some of the highest workplace injury rates. To help achieve this, the department sponsored the Puataunofo Manukau project, a community-based initiative that released a DVD promoting health and safety for Pasifika workers in the manufacturing sector, established information stalls at community occasions and used events such as the Pasifika Festival and ASB Polyfest to promote the health and safety message.

Armitage said workplace health and safety involved more than compliance with regulations: “It’s about developing a safety culture that focuses on best practice in the workplace.”

Activities of the department included a Health and Safety Summit where international safety culture expert Professor Andrew Hopkins spoke on safety culture and a project to develop a safety culture within the forestry industry, which has a traditionally high accident rate. As part of this project there were seminars in Rotorua and Nelson at which Mavis Mullins — winner of a 2008 Safeguard New Zealand Award — shared how health and safety is integral to her company’s business culture and practices.

Armitage said if the strategy’s desired outcomes are to be achieved by 2015, commitment and action from the government, industry and the community is required: “Good outcomes also require cultural and practical changes in many workplaces. The department is committed to playing its part as a leader and participant within this agenda.”


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