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Safety proposals misguided

Media release 31 October 2001

Safety proposals misguided

Business NZ is concerned that proposed health and safety amendments are misguided.

Amendments to the Health & Safety in Employment Act proposed by the Minister of Labour were tabled in Parliament today.

Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says the amendments are overly punitive in some areas and fuzzy in others.

The amendments would increase fines fivefold - up to half a million dollars - and prevent employers insuring against fines under the Act.

Mr Carlaw says the increased fines have been benchmarked against other countries that have much larger companies and it is inappropriate to have maximum fines of half a million dollars for a nation of small businesses. "Deterrence is important, but an overly punitive approach is misguided. The most effective safety regime is one founded on education."

"Letting unions prosecute employers is also problematic as it could open the door to prosecutions being used as an industrial weapon," Mr Carlaw said.

"The proposals also include fuzzy, 'feel good' concepts like the intention to include stress and fatigue in the definition of workplace hazard. It will be very difficult to distinguish between stress or fatigue from work and stress or fatigue caused by lifestyle choices outside of work."


ENDS


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