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Opportunity to get it right on health and safety

21 February 2013

Opportunity to get it right on health and safety

The Public Service Association says health and safety inspectors will welcome moves to set up a stand-alone health and safety agency as an opportunity to get it right.

The creation of a stand-alone agency was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Pike River tragedy.

The PSA had earlier called on the government to act on the recommendation.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says “it’s important that the government follows through by ensuring that the new agency is well-funded and well-resourced and there is better training, particularly at the management level. These were all things identified in the Pike River report.”

“Creating a stand-alone agency will also give health and safety the more singular status it deserves. Many felt there was a risk the health and safety unit would get lost within the business-focussed MBIE super ministry, where it didn’t naturally sit.”

The health and safety inspectorate is currently going through an intensive restructuring process and there is also a major review underway of New Zealand’s health and safety system by an independent taskforce which is due to report back in April.

“It’s an unsettling and uncertain time for staff with new structures being put in place and people having to reapply for positions,” Mr Wagstaff says.

“They will have some big questions about how that will translate over to a new agency and want to see some detail on where funding for this new organisation will be coming from.”

“If we are going to have a separate health and safety agency every effort must be made to ensure it is well-funded, well-staffed, well-trained and includes strong professional leadership. It is not an opportunity to waste,” he says.


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