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More resources to improve occupational health

11 May 2005

Budget 2005 More resources to improve occupational health

New funding of $730,000 (GST exclusive) has been allocated to improve occupational health in New Zealand workplaces, Associate Labour Minister, Ruth Dyson announced today.

The funding, which will be available in the 2005/06 year, will enable the Department of Labour to strengthen its technical expertise and professional leadership in occupational health, and start to upgrade systems for reporting and measuring occupational disease.

“Occupational diseases can be difficult to detect and measure and the strategies needed to address them may differ from those needed to address safety issues.

“The complex range of occupational health issues in New Zealand includes work-related stress and fatigue, occupational violence, the workplace health issues of older workers, asbestos and the ability to respond to such issues as bird flu. Previous and current use of chemicals in fumigation, the production of herbicides, and timber treatment also present challenges; as do the occupational health needs of people in particular industries such as labour hire and the health services industry,” she said.

The funding will enable better systems, research and information for workplaces on health matters. The Department’s health and safety inspectors will get additional training in occupational health matters to enhance their ability to recognise and respond to workplace health hazards.

The Department of Labour will also receive a capital grant of $120,000 for new occupational health measurement and monitoring equipment.

“Improving occupational health has long presented challenges for workplaces internationally. At a time when New Zealand’s economy is so strong, we need fit and healthy, high performing workers more than ever. We can’t afford to make people sick at work. We need their skills, labour and experience, we need them to be working and producing,” Ms Dyson said.

The pre-Budget announcement was made at the official opening of the 18th Triennial Asian Conference on Occupational Health in Wellington this morning. The conference provides an Asia Pacific forum for the exchange of scientific and technical information relating to occupational and environmental health issues. The countries that make up this group represent a significant part of the globe and include: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and New Zealand.


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