Workplace safety Bill sure to backfire
Media release Friday, November 30th, 2001
Workplace safety Bill sure to backfire, add millions to Government costs
The Health and Safety Amendment Bill will backfire on Government's own employment costs, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.
It will expose Government to the risk of multiple claims for stress and stress related conditions.
"The Bill's new definitions of harm and hazard in the workplace are doubly important for all Government managers," said Peter Tritt, EMA's Advisory Services Manager.
"They are the main group of frontline people whose employees are being asked to take on extra responsibilities but without the extra resources to carry them out. Staff shortages have been the main reason cited in the public service for workplace stress.
"Nearly all recent stress related cases previously have been civil claims from the public sector.
"The tax payer is being asked to foot the bill for many more of them if the new law is passed unchanged. Recent stress related civil claims resulted in several hundred thousands of dollars paid out in each case.
"With prosecutions possible under the new Bill we can expect to see a goldrush by stressed out Government employees adding millions to Government's employment costs.
"Added to the extra direct costs, there is the uncertainty and compliance costs associated as the first new cases come before the courts for rulings on what workplace stress is, to what extent it can be compensated for, if at all, and how to decide whether the stress occurred at work, at home, or from some other cause, and to what extent.
"At present no one knows what will happen with any of these things.
"Business is being told to pay up for all this, as well as to carry the risk of huge extra fines, with no right to insure against them, whether or not they resulted from actions of an employer or a disgruntled employee.
"Frankly, employers think the new Bill is irresponsible and a nonsense."
Comments: Peter Tritt tel 09 367 0921 (b)
09 845 5532 (h)
025 796 807