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Day to remember dead workers

28 April 2005

Day to remember dead workers

The Department of Labour is urging all New Zealanders to spend some time today thinking about how health and safety in their workplace can be improved.

Today is International Workers Memorial Day, which is commemorated worldwide to remember the million-plus people killed on the job each year.

Occupational safety and health service national operations manager Mike Cosman said it’s estimated that 700 to 1000 New Zealanders die each year from work-related illness and disease, and another 100 people die from occupational injury.

Already this year, the Department of Labour has launched investigations into 26 workplace fatalities – 15 of these in the farming community alone.

Mr Cosman said International Workers Memorial Day was a time when people could spare a thought for the families of the people who never made it home from work, while also thinking about their own health and safety at work.

“Just as Anzac Day commemorates the soldiers who have died in the line of duty, International Workers Memorial Day honours a different kind of fallen hero – the men and women who left for work and never came home.

“The challenge for us all is to find ways to prevent the human and social cost of work-related death, injury and illness, so that they didn’t die in vain.”

Mr Cosman said health and safety at work was everyone’s concern. “We all have roles to play in making sure our workplaces are safe and healthy – employers and employees alike. Health and safety is about looking after yourself, your staff and your workmates.”

Research in New Zealand and overseas showed that employee involvement in health and safety was the way to go, he said.

“Not only does worker participation help raise awareness, it reduces accidents, illnesses and injuries in the workplace, and therefore improves workplace productivity. The net outcome of this cooperative approach to health and safety is a reduction in economic as well as social costs.”

Today is also the International Labour Organisation’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work, with a theme this year of creating and sustaining a preventative health and safety culture in workplaces.


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