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Dodgy Workplace Accident Statistics Slammed

Thursday, March 21st, 2002

Labour Minister Margaret Wilson's misleading use of the numbers of people killed at work came in for a drubbing today at the Employers & Manufacturers Association's 6th Annual Conference on Occupational Health and Safety.

Peter Tritt, EMA's Manager of Advisory Services, told the Auckland conference "people are actually safer at work than anywhere else, safer than on the roads, than at home, or at recreation."

He said workplaces have been getting safer, citing a Parliamentary Select Committee report which said in February 2000:

‘the steady drop in workplace accidents since 1994 was 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.'

"Labour Minister Wilson has been going around the country with her '500 white crosses' campaign saying this is the number of people killed each year at work," Mr Tritt said.

"The figure is totally spurious.

"ACC accident fatality statistics show a vastly smaller number, and that they are reducing.

"Her 500 white crosses are said to include people who die from heart attacks, passive smoking, long term disease conditions, road deaths, and even people murdered at a place of work.

"The figures, which coincidentally are also being used by CTU President Ross Wilson, are a disgraceful slur on the truth, and defamatory of employers.

"The Bill's attempt to make employers responsible for every accident in the workplace is simply anti business, anti employer and effectively anti employee because it will deter small businesses from taking on the burden of employment.

"Under the same logic Margaret Wilson uses, the Minister of Health should be prosecuted for the 400 people who, its dubiously claimed, die each year from passive smoking. If smoking really kills 400 non-smokers a year it should be banned forthwith.

"Equally, her logic would see the Minister of Transport prosecuted for all road deaths because he has failed to provide a safe road network.

"It's difficult to escape the conclusion that the bill has more to do with the health and safety of unions in the workplace than workplace health and safety.

"The new law won't eliminate one workplace accident."

Comments: Peter Tritt tel 09 367 0921 (b)

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