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Call for Action over Workplace Death Figures

Call for Action over Latest Workplace Death Figures

Business, the Government, and unions must urgently get behind the new health and safety law to eliminate the workplace death toll, Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said today.

In the past week, Occupational Safety and Health released the latest figures on the number of workplace fatalities it had investigated.

The total number of deaths for the year to June 2003 is 73, which is exactly the same as the previous 12 months and almost double the year before that.

The latest figures include 29 deaths at industrial or commercial properties, and 14 fatalities on building sites.

“We have seen public attacks on the new OSH legislation by employer spokespeople and ACT and National Party politicians,” Ross Wilson said. “The message they are sending is that safety laws are an unfair compliance cost on employers, and that New Zealand workplaces are safe enough.” This attitude gives a licence to poor employers to try to avoid doing anything about health and safety protection for workers, he said.

“Political, business and union leaders must send a consistent message that urgent action must be taken by employers and employees to clean up unsafe workplaces,” Ross Wilson said.

“Employers and unions should be working with the health and safety representatives to establish and maintain safe systems of work, and OSH should rigorously enforce the Act against offending employers.

“The CTU has launched a national training programme in a joint venture with ACC and aims to train 5,000 elected workplace health and safety representatives by May next year,” he said. The workplace fatalities statistics can be seen on the OSH website at: http://www.osh.govt.nz/hazards/stats/fatals/fatals.shtml

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