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Lives can’t wait a year for new health and safety agency

Darien Fenton
Labour Spokesperson

21 February 2013

Lives can’t wait a year for new health and safety agency

The Government should fast-track plans to establish a new, stand-alone health and safety agency to help keep workers safe on the job, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues, Darien Fenton.

“Setting up a dedicated agency is the right thing to do, but lives will be needlessly lost in the workplace if the Government takes nearly a year to get it up and running.

“It will be good to see health and safety regulation and enforcement separated out from the so-called “business facing ministry” MBIE, because there is a clear conflict between safety on the job and the drive for profits.

“But the Government’s plan to wait for almost a year before getting the new agency established isn’t good enough. The massacre in our workplaces requires urgent action, not a slow moving bureaucratic response.

“Worker participation is a key factor in health and safety in all workplaces, but the Government has diminished its importance by scaling back funding for the training of health and safety representatives.

“A big lesson from the Pike River Mine was the importance of workplace representation. The Government should move urgently to implement a requirement for check inspectors and to restore funding for health and safety training.

“The Minister is also progressing employment law changes that will significantly reduce rights for all workers and put pressure on their wages.

“The National-led Government just can’t seem to understand that health and safety at work is closely linked to workplace rights and their plans to reduce workers’ rights can only make things worse,” says Darien Fenton.

ENDS

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