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Workplace Health and Safety Strategy gains made

28 November 2006

Workplace Health and Safety Strategy gains made

Significant progress has been made in implementing the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy in the 17 months since it was launched, Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

Releasing the first annual report for the strategy, Ms Dyson commended the agencies involved in its implementation to date.

“In the first year, the agencies involved have delivered on a range of practical projects and activities designed to meet the objectives of the WHSS - to raise awareness, target action more effectively, and get better co-ordination between all those already working to reduce New Zealand’s workplace death and injury toll."

Progress has been considerable, and included the development of joint stakeholder programmes, education and promotion, research and leadership.
As part of the strategy, representatives from government agencies, industries and unions have collaborated to identify priority areas and better align their activity, she said.

“Ultimately the strategy is a catalyst for changing and lifting workplace health and safety practice beyond compliance so we have healthy people in safe and productive workplaces.”

The majority of the 100-plus activities highlighted in the first year’s ‘action plan’ had been delivered on, Ms Dyson said.

“This encouraging start to the implementation of the 10-year strategy gives me great confidence that progress will continue and further improvements in workplace health and safety will be achieved in the medium-term.

“The priorities identified for 2007 and beyond reflect a new approach that aims to better engage with government, industry and the community over the coming years, and in doing so, accelerate progress towards the outcomes of government leadership, industry leadership and preventative workplace cultures.”

The 2005/06 “Snapshot of Progress” is available on the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy website www.whss.govt.nz. The next progress report will be published in late 2007.

BACKGROUND

Priorities for the 2006/07 year include:

- Establishing the new Workplace Health and Safety Council
- Promoting the links between health and safety performance and workplace productivity
- Commencing research on the links between health and safety performance and employee participation
- Progressing the whole of government project to improve the surveillance of occupational disease and injury
- Developing an industry and government leadership programme to engage industry, government and the community as ‘champions’ of the strategy’s vision.

Highlights from the 2005/06 action plan:

- Successful promotion of key workplace health and safety messages via the TVNZ Special Investigators series. Special Investigators was the second most-popular NZ On Air-funded series this year.

- Significant research has been carried out for the Department of Labour on the links between health and safety and productivity in workplaces. Results indicate workplaces that showed the best performance in health and safety were also the ones that had the clearest idea on what productivity meant to them. Promotion activities based on this research will start next year.

- A research funding partnership between the Department of Labour and the Health Research Council of New Zealand has awarded three “career development awards” in the form of post-graduate research fellowships, including two PhD research projects, and one Master of Science Project.

- ACC developed a small business incentive programme.

- Maritime New Zealand, in association with the fishing industry and ACC, has released the “FishSafe” programme, which includes incentives, a guideline on safety in the fishing industry, and an internet site.

- The Civil Aviation Authority has engaged with the New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association and the Agriculture Safety Council to produce a guideline on safety on farm airstrips. As a result, CAA has noted a marked decline in agricultural aviation accidents related to airstrip conditions since drafts of this guideline first started being circulated among farmers and agricultural aviators.

- Production of “Occupational Health Tools” to provide guidance to people on dealing with occupational health issues. Initially developed for use by health and safety inspectors, these have been made available to employers and other interested people.

- The Construction Industry Council has released its own health and safety strategy for the construction sector. The Council has also published a report Principles of Best Practice – Construction Procurement in New Zealand, including a section on health and safety.

- Extending the Small Business Information Unit to West Auckland and Manukau (adding to recent extensions to Tauranga, Nelson and Christchurch).

- Pilots of local and regional authorities’ enforcement of the HSNO Act have been run in Taranaki and Auckland Regional Councils. Meetings have been held to review progress.

- Conducted an inter-agency emergency response training exercise in Taupo to test and improve coordination of responses to emergencies in the workplace, especially where hazardous substances are stored.

- Published a report looking at current New Zealand practices concerning triple-bottom line reporting guidelines.

ENDS

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