Government learns nothing about health and safety
The announcement that the Government is investigating deregulating the use of farm vehicles allowing longer work hours and less stringent restrictions on use and standards of vehicles is an indication that they have learned nothing about health and safety.
Helen Kelly, President of the CTU said "being hit by a moving object is the top cause of fatal and serious injuries in New Zealand workplaces with farm vehicles accounting for 23% of those deaths and injuries. Despite agriculture, forestry and fishing only have around 7% of the New Zealand workforce they accounted for 15% of the fatalities to workers in 2008 with the key cause of death including farm vehicles. Those killed and injured include a significant number of contractors or workers employed by contractors."
"Yesterday the Government put out a statement announcing the review which highlights specifically its priorities - and they are not worker safety. Noting that contractors and farmers need to harvest crops when they are ready, and when the weather is right the solution they propose is that that may mean workers working longer and more irregular hours."
"Government is suggesting changes to regulations on working hours, requirements for safety inspections of vehicles and relaxing requirements for load weights amongst other things. Even proposing this is sending a message that farm work safety is not a priority. It is also against Governments own statistic which suggests up to 25% of road accidents may be attributable to fatigue - this must also apply to accidents with vehicles on farms."
"The suggestion that vehicles might not need safety restrictions because these vehicles may not spend much time on public roads ignores the fact that these workers are being killed on farms and many of them will be on vehicles being pushed to the limit and used in unsafe ways."
"The Government says it has listened closely to industry concerns but it has not talked to the workers and it has not considered their interests or the terrible failure of this industry to runs its business safely -farm employers should first be asked to prove that they are capable of safe practice and reducing farm accidents and until that time standards and compliance should be increased not reduced."
Yesterday's announcement does not include any consideration of talking to farm workers about any proposed changes.