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Smaller businesses to get the safety message

Smaller businesses to get the safety message

New Zealand's largest and highest injury employer group–smaller businesses–is to get the safety message in a new ACC workplace safety programme.

Training and supervision, hazard management, and emergencies and incident investigation will be at the forefront in the initiative's seminars and self assessment materials.

ACC Injury Prevention Workplace Safety Manager Geoff Wilson says the programme, dubbed ACC WorkSafe Small Business, recognises that small to medium businesses have limited time and resources.

"Smaller employers find it harder to implement safety practices, because they don't have access to the same resources as their larger counterparts," Mr Wilson says.

But they also have a higher claims frequency than either the self-employed or large employers and their average claim costs are higher too.

In 2001-02, claims from small employer injuries came in at $17,700 per $1 million of liable earnings, more than three-times the $5169 claim cost for large employers and significantly more than the $15,799 for the self-employed.

Nevertheless, the social and economic role of small to medium businesses is substantial as they account for 97 percent of New Zealand businesses and 42 percent of the full-time workforce.

"Too often smaller businesses have limited awareness of their injury risks, and, till now, there has been little in the way of structured and easy-to-implement injury prevention programmes for them," Mr Wilson says.

The new initiative will initially target high risk industries such as agriculture, forestry and wood processing, and building and construction.

While forestry and construction might appear the preserve of big business, large parts of their operations are often undertaken by small subcontractors.

ACC WorkSafe Small Business will be delivered to small employers through partnerships with industry sector organisations such as industry organisations and unions.

Mr Wilson expects strong interest in the programme from sector organisations which can use it to enhance their contribution and value to their memberships.

More information is available on the ACC website at: http://www.acc.co.nz/injury-prevention/safe-at-work/small-business/

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