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Safe Workplace Programmes the Best Incentive

Media Release

16 May 2001

Recognition of Safe Workplace Programmes the Best Incentive to Reduced Workplace Fatalities

The Employers and Manufacturers' Association strongly supports the principle of reducing workplace fatalities as outlined in the summary report of the Review of the Health and Safety in Employment Act yesterday.

"However, two key issues have been glossed over," says Rodger Kerr-Newell, president of the EMA Central.

"Firstly, the evidence clearly shows that workplace fatalities are sadly and primarily a result of the macho Kiwi attitude to physical risks and safety.

"This can be evidenced by the high rate of injuries and fatalities among the self-employed," Mr Kerr-Newell said. "Indeed at a meeting of Business New Zealand this morning ACC confirmed the injury rate of the self-employed is currently increasing while that of employees continues to decline.

"The second point is that active measures to encourage workplace safety through experience rating under the old ACC regime were removed early last year.

"Prior to then, all employer work safety records were applied individually - good employers with good records found their ACC premiums were reduced. This incentive was not extended to those who did not perform. Now, for the vast majority of employers who are too small to gain individual attention from ACC, they are lumped into wide categories, and there is simply no incentive, apart from natural concern for one's employees to take extra action," Rodger Kerr-Newell said.

"Nevertheless, today larger employers must have positive safety programmes in place and they are already working with ACC. And, of course, most of these sites are where unions have coverage.

"On the other hand, the removal of the individual experience rating incentives under the so-called ACC reforms actively took away existing strong incentives for smaller, non-unionised employers to actively promote and implement positive safety programmes.

"The EMA suggests the importance of active safety programmes is perhaps being obscured by rhetoric. Perhaps the best approach would be to return to the time when positive efforts were recognised and incentivised by the ACC, rather than just ignored as they are today," Rodger Kerr-Newell suggested.

Further comment: Rodger Kerr-Newell: Phone 06 759 6101 (w)

Rodger Kerr-Newell is the chair of EMA Central and Chief Exec of New Plymouth District Council.

Contact details for EMA are 95-99 Molesworth St, Wellington Phone 04 473 7224

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