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Devil in the detail of health and safety reforms

Devil in the detail of health and safety reforms

Workplace health and safety reforms announced today are on the right track, but the devil will be in the detail of the new regime, says Labour’s Health and Safety spokesperson, Darien Fenton.

“Enhanced worker participation and support for health and safety representatives, a primary duty on people conducting a business or undertaking to ensure the health and safety of workers, and stronger penalties for breaches are welcome changes and Labour strongly supports them.

“However, I remain unconvinced that the Government understands or accepts the important role that unions and workers play in health and safety.

“The Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, has baulked at tripartite representation on the board of new agency, Worksafe, something that has come under fire from submitters on the Pike River Implementation Bill who have rightly raised doubts about the Government’s commitment to worker voices.

“The reforms also conflict with the Government’s proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act.

“Cutting meals and rest breaks, for example, mean that this most basic of health and safety rights could undermine any changes to health and safety laws and leave workers still afraid to speak out.

“If Mr Bridges is serious about transforming workplace health and safety practices, he would immediately withdraw his employment law changes and put his effort into getting health and safety legislation before the House as soon as possible.”


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