Workers encouraged to ‘Stand Up, Be
Workers are being encouraged to stand up and be safe at work in a new union campaign to ensure they come home to their families free from injury or illness.
The ‘Stand Up, Be Safe’ campaign is organised by the EPMU, which represents workers in some of New Zealand’s most hazardous industries.
The union is holding meetings at manufacturing firms all over New Zealand encouraging workers to get organised on health and safety, regardless of whether they are union members or not.
EPMU health and safety coordinator Fritz Drissner says the campaign comes amid growing awareness of the need to reduce New Zealand’s appalling rate of workplace deaths, injuries and illness.
“Both the Pike River Royal Commission and the Health & Safety Taskforce are clear that New Zealand’s workplace health and safety regime is woefully inadequate and needs major reform.
“These reports also make clear that workers need to have a stronger voice on health and safety if we’re going to reduce our rate of workplace harm.
“Stand Up, Be Safe is about putting that into action by making sure workers know their rights and feel confident speaking up. We’re encouraging workers to set up workplace health and safety committees, elect their own health and safety reps and say no to unsafe work.
“Workers and employers also need to work together to create a ‘no blame’ culture. The fear factor needs to be removed in health and safety to encourage workers to report incidents and dangerous occurrences.
“Strengthening our laws and regulations is necessary but by itself it won’t be enough. We need to change the culture if we’re going to make our workplaces safe.”
Around 100 New Zealanders die at work every year, the equivalent of three Pike Rivers. Another 500 to 800 people die prematurely each year because of occupational illness.