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Ministerial Inquiry Report released

25 July 2003 Media Statement

Ministerial Inquiry Report released

The Ministerial Inquiry into hazardous substances found there are two main lessons to be learned from managing the risk of exposure in workplaces, Labour Minister Margaret Wilson said today when releasing the Inquiry report.

[The Inquiry, which began in November last year, was chaired by Wellington barrister Denis Clifford with expert support provided by Drs Hilda Firth and Ian Laird.]

“The first lesson is that it can and frequently does take considerable periods of time for the adverse health effects associated with continuing exposure to hazardous substances to become apparent,” she said. “Secondly, people have differing susceptibility to chemical exposure with some adversely affected at a level lower than that tolerated by others without apparent harm.”

Margaret Wilson said the Inquiry also highlighted the need for proactive management of health and safety obligations in workplaces.

“Better information is needed to help employers with their obligations in this area and on the range of incidence of occupational illnesses associated with the toxic effects of hazardous substances.”

Margaret Wilson said she is studying the finer detail of the Report and its 23 recommendations, but is confident it provides a range of practical steps that will help reduce chemical hazards in New Zealand workplaces.

The Report will now be handed over to the new National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee for its consideration. The Committee has been set up specifically to provide expert independent advice on major occupational safety and health issues direct to government.

Margaret Wilson said the Report will be publicly available and copies sent to all public libraries throughout the country and a copy placed on the Inquiry’s website www.hazsubstanceinquiry.osh.govt.nz


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