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Important Step Towards Protecting Health Workers

25 July, 2003

Important Step Towards Protecting Health Workers

"The outcome of the government's inquiry into the effect of dangerous chemicals on workers is an important step to addressing the issues for health workers," said Geoff Annals, chief executive of the Nurses Organisation today.

The Report of the Ministerial Inquiry into the Management of Certain Hazardous Substances in Workplaces was released today.

The inquiry was prompted by the effects on workers exposed to hazardous substances such as glutaraldehyde, an important issue for nurses and other health workers.

"The report will be welcomed by the many health workers with symptoms of glutaraldehyde toxicity because it recognises this as a serious health issue," said Geoff Annals.

"The report also rightly identifies that management of these substances has been particularly inadequate in the health sector."

Geoff Annals said he agreed with the report's finding that workers were generally aware of the implications of exposure to chemicals long before employers.

"There is a vital role for workplace health and safety representatives to play and NZNO strongly supports the opportunities for greater worker participation in the new workplace health and safety law," he said.

"We need to ensure we have the maximum possible health and safety representatives trained to effectively represent other health workers in the workplace."

Geoff Annals said while the findings identified the seriousness of the problem, mandatory training of health workers and regulations and a national strategy on the control and use of substances such as gluteraldehyde in the workplace was needed to fully protect health workers.


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