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Mallard: Shearing co. health and safety role model

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister of Labour

29 February 2008 Speech Notes

Embargoed until:11am

Shearing company a health and safety role model

Speech to the launch of best practice shearing guidelines and Health and Safety makes good business sense publication. Golden Shears, Masterton

Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today.

For those of us baby boomers who are roughly the same age as this classic kiwi event, the Golden Shears is as much a part of our heritage as pavlova, jandals, the All Blacks and the late great Sir Ed Hillary.

I was just a toddler when the forerunner of the Golden Shears was held here in Masterton in 1958. It was also the same year that Sir Ed went to the South Pole.

I'm told the inaugural Golden Shears of 1961 surpassed all expectations with the crowds so great the Army was called in for crowd control. The competition became so popular that seats had to be booked 12 months ahead – and it's still going strong to this day.

For me personally, as a lifetime lover of sport, it’s a great privilege to have the chance to see some of New Zealand’s finest athletes competing in a world class agri-sport.

But with my Minister of Labour hat on, it's also good to be here to celebrate the launch of the Shearing Industry Guidelines – guidelines that will help your industry take care of what is one of your most precious resources – your shearers. And guidelines that will also help business look after its bottom line – in the costs that are saved – and productivity that is lifted - through having a healthy and safe workplace.

The shearing guidelines have been in development for three years since the birth of SHEAResults, which dedicates itself to Health and Safety in the shearing industry.

They are a great example of industry and government working together to improve our workplaces and congratulations to everyone here today who played a part in their development. SHEAResults worked with ACC , Federated Farmers, Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand, the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association, Department of Labour, Meat and Wool New Zealand, FarmSafe, and the Agriculture ITO.

Guidelines like these are an important part of government working with industry to improve health, safety and productivity in New Zealand workplaces.

The cost of not addressing this enormous issue is simply too great – the statistics are chilling.

It’s estimated that as many as 1100 premature deaths occur each year because of work-related disease and injury. Every day approximately 700 workers are harmed badly enough to seek medical help. And recent research estimates the social costs of workplace injuries and disease in 2005 was between $15.5 billion and $16.5 billion.

As I've said, as well as protecting employees, there is a benefit to business and industry from investing in good health and safety practices.

This brings me to another publication we are releasing today - "How Health and Safety makes good business sense" . It's a summary of research into how health and safety pays off for business and business productivity, and includes advice and tips, and some kiwi case studies on a variety of businesses.

With us here today are Mavis and Koro Mullins from Paewai Mullins Shearing – who are one of the featured case studies – or role models if you like – in this publication.

I'm hoping other businesses will follow their lead and learn something from what Mavis and Koro did to inject health and safety into their workplace.

This summary of international evidence and local case studies showed that improved health and safety can lead to reduced injuries – meaning more people working and less down time and less sick pay.

Other positive outcomes included enhanced business reputation, improved staff recruitment and retention as well as increased innovation in the workplace, and reduced ACC levies.

The case studies – including Paewai Mullins Shearing - highlighted the importance of seeing health and safety as an investment. They showed the value in taking a whole of business approach – of building a positive safety culture.

In practice, these businesses all demonstrated engaged and committed leadership and they involved and supported their workers.

They also integrated health and safety across the business, at all levels, not just as an administrative clip on.

But none of this should be too surprising. I’m sure you you’ve all had experiences that would back this up. But it’s nice when the research agrees with you.

The Department of Labour has pulled together these findings in a user friendly pack that I hope will motivate other businesses to follow suit and lilkewise invest in health and safety in their business.

Thank you.


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