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Workplace "safety" Bill based on false premises

Media release Thursday, November 1st, 2001

Workplace "safety" Bill based on false premises, mocks business compliance costs

The new workplace safety Bill introduced yesterday is based on completely false information and makes a farce of Government's intentions to lower business compliance costs, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"The Bill will not make one workplace safer than it is right now," said Peter Tritt, EMA's Manager of Advisory Services.

"Commerce Minister Paul Swain has clearly thrown in the towel over business compliance with this so-called workplace 'safety' Bill.

"It's based on completely false premises. Official statistics show you are safer at work than at home, than on the roads whether walking, cycling or driving, or when pursuing a leisure activity.

"The Minister simply wants to punish employers rather than face the facts.

"Employers have done a good job reducing workplace accidents over the past decade. In February 2000, Parliament's own Select Committee on the re-nationalisation of ACC stated: "What became clear... from the evidence received was the steady drop in workplace accidents since 1994 has been as a direct result of the introduction of the health and safety legislation. This has been the greatest and most significant factor in reducing workplace accidents."

"The Bill's mish-mash of ways to make employers pay more than elsewhere in the world relative to their size will hurt good employers along with those with poor safety records.

"Denying employers the right to insure against fines increased up to $500,000 demonstrates the Minister really has learnt nothing about business over the past two years - it smacks of petulance, not sensible regulation.

"Employers will be in a no-win situation; they would face punitive liability, and with no way to manage the extent of the risk they become exposed to.

"Ill-defined conditions such as stress and fatigue are more likely to occur away from the workplace, but employers will become liable for whatever mischievous claim an errant employee may wish to bring.

"Stress and fatigue widen the prize pool considerably in the lotto game employers are being obliged to fund.

"Under this legislation the chances of being hit with a claim go up hugely even though a workplace might have an enviable safety record.

"The best that can be hoped for from the Bill is, again, after much lobbying and unnecessary acrimony, that Government will make the necessary amendments, as it did with the Employment Relations Bill when that first faced the cold scrutiny of common sense."

Comments: Peter Tritt tel 09 367 0921 (b)

09 845 5532 (h)

025 796 807

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