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Workplace Safety Needs Soul Searching

Workplace Safety Needs Same Soul Searching As Olympics Performance

New Zealand's dismal workplace safety record would improve if people did as much soul searching about workplace accidents as they have about the country's poor Olympic performance, Associate Minister for Accident Insurance Ruth Dyson said today.

Opening the Worksafe Expo in Auckland, Ms Dyson said New Zealand's work accident record is worse than other comparable countries, especially regarding serious accidents.

"Workplace fatalities in this country run at 4.9 per 100,000 employees compared with 3.8 per 100,000 in Australia and 3.2 in the United States. It appears that New Zealanders are not concerned enough about workplace accidents. We need to create a climate where such accidents become completely unacceptable."

Ms Dyson said recent media coverage showed the need for a change in priorities.

"While headlines all over the country lamented New Zealand's poor performance at the Olympics and calls rang out for more money to be poured into sport, the news about our dismal international record for serious workplace accidents received little media attention."

Ms Dyson said events such as Workplace Expo, involving over 50 companies, play an important part in raising awareness about workplace safety.

She said the Government also had a key part to play.

"New industrial relations law, a new emphasis by ACC on injury prevention, and health and safety in employment legislation will all help to create safer workplaces.

"We will be doing our best to make sure that employers, managers, unions, employees and professionals have the legal and state support they need to make safety and health paramount wherever people work."


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