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Get the facts before blaming

Better information is needed before a punitive work safety regime is imposed on employers, says Business NZ.

Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says proposed changes to the Health & Safety in Employment Act would turn employees into prosecutors and subject small employers to extremely high fines that they would not be able to insure against.

"These changes are being promoted without adequate information on whether employers are in fact to blame for most workplace accidents.

"Neither ACC nor OSH keeps records on who was at fault in workplace accidents, because of our no-fault accident compensation system.

"But if we don't have the figures on who is to blame for workplace accidents, then it is wrong to impose a system that punishes only one party.

"In many cases workplace accidents are caused by employee carelessness or by circumstances beyond the control of both employer and employee. Yet the proposed amendments to the Health & Safety in Employment Act are focused overwhelmingly on punishing and constraining employers.

"If the statistics showed that employers were to blame, that might be fair enough. But we don't have the statistics to be able to make that judgment.

"OSH or ACC should be charged with collecting information regarding liability for accidents, before we make the knee-jerk assumption that employers are always to blame," Mr Carlaw said.


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