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Brownlee’s Claims Grossly Exaggerated

Monday, 22 April 2002

Brownlee’s Claims Grossly Exaggerated And Misleading

National MP Gerry Brownlee’s claims with regard to the new Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill are grossly exaggerated and designed to mislead, Minister of Labour Hon Margaret Wilson said today.

“Good employers and responsible workers have nothing to worry about,” she said. “The penalty provisions Mr Brownlee refers to are maximums and only come into play when an employer or employee causes harm to themselves or others in the workplace where this harm could have been prevented.

“The Act does not require a state of absolute perfection in the work place. It requires that employers take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work. There is also a duty on every employee to take all practicable steps to ensure their own safety and that of others.

“It will be impossible for employers and employees to insure themselves against criminal prosecution under the Act. However it will still be possible to insure for the legal costs of defending a prosecution.”

Margaret Wilson said Mr Brownlee with his comments seems to be advocating a lower standard of health and safety in the public sector than for the private sector.

“He also failed to mention the fact that the $1 billion of general liability insurance held by government departments and agencies covers the range of business activity and primarily and substantially covers risks of civil, not criminal, action.”

Workers are dying in this country because of unsafe workplaces and practices and the government is committed to ensuring this tragic state of affairs does not continue, said Margaret Wilson.

“One workplace death is one death too many.”

ends

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