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Safe Workplaces Require Everyone's Input

1 May 2002

Safe Workplaces Require Everyone's Input - Business NZ

Fewer people are likely to take responsibility for safety at work under proposed new legislation, says Business NZ.

Addressing the select committee considering the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill today, Business NZ Executive Director Anne Knowles said this was one of the negative outcomes likely if the Bill was passed.

"The Bill appears to change the focus away from everyone at the workplace having responsibility for health and safety, to just a few representatives," Ms Knowles said.

"This is clearly not in the interests of safety - a safe workplace requires everyone's commitment. Unfortunately the Bill also introduces a prescriptive approach where previously there was a focus on agreement.

"It also seems to require workplaces to dismantle all existing employee participation safety systems and start again - a drastic requirement, given the many effective systems in place in huge numbers of firms."

Ms Knowles said including stress and fatigue as a workplace hazard in the Bill was unnecessary, as the recent Gilbert case showed existing legislation could deal competently with those issues.

"Another problem is that the Bill deems volunteers to be employees - this would introduce many new uncertainties and potential costs for employers that are not adequately dealt with in the draft legislation."

Ms Knowles said a large number of companies had expressed concern with the many problems in the Bill and substantial changes would be needed to make it workable.

Ends

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