There is no reason New Zealand can't lead world on health and safety

Today marks World Day for Safety and Health at Work and International Workers' Memorial Day.

Today marks World Day for Safety and Health at Work and International Workers' Memorial Day. It is a day that WorkSafe Chief Executive Phil Parkes says should not be passed over like any other.

More than 500 people have gone to work and not come home again in the last 10 years according to WorkSafe data. Many more have sustained life changing injuries or suffer poor health because of their work environment.

"On this day we remember those people who haven't returned home after going to work and think of their families, loved ones, friends and colleagues who have dealt with the aftermath. We are also mindful of more than 200,000 workers who have needed more than a week away from work because of an injury in the last 10 years.

"We're not where we want to be as a nation, and I want the legacy of those who've passed away or been seriously harmed at work to be more than just a statistic." said Mr Parkes.

"Workers are the engine room for our economy - yet too often, they are the least able to make a difference to health and safety in their work environment. The approach of the past from successive regulators, businesses, worker representatives and influencers has not bought about the change we all want. And now is the time to do things differently," he said.

Mr Parkes said "It is time to move from thinking about health and safety as compliance to better work design, worker representation and leadership at every level.

"Directors must step up and improve the health and safety of the workplaces in their control and those in their supply chains. And organisations need to involve their most important asset - their people - in decisions about their own health and safety."

The challenge to transform our health and safety performance is substantial, and Mr Parkes said it can't be tackled by the regulator alone and needs the buy-in of every New Zealander.

"In New Zealand we take pride in our ability to lead the world and punch above our weight. There is no reason New Zealand businesses and workers can't do this with health and safety."


WorkSafe is supporting the Business Leaders Health and Safety Forum at the launch of their Protecting Mental Wellbeing at Work guide in Auckland this afternoon. The Protecting Mental Wellbeing at Work guide is available for free(external link).

In Auckland this evening the Sky Tower will be lit orange to acknowledge the lives lost and signal a message for New Zealanders, that we need to do better. The lights of the Sky Tower will be switched on by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Hon Michael Wood.

See attached tables of fatalities and injuries requiring more than a week away from work in New Zealand workplaces. The tables also include fatalities and injuries by region and industry.

Work-related health deaths are estimated at 750-900 people a year.

There are an estimated 5000-6000 hospitalisations each year due to work-related ill-health.

A worker is 15 times more likely to die from a work-related disease than from a workplace accident.

WorkSafe recorded fatalities by region (PDF 1.1 MB)

Week away from work, injuries by region (PDF 3.1 MB)

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