Review an opportunity to strengthen workplace health and safety

NZCTU Te Kauae Kaimahi President Richard Wagstaff is calling on Minister Brooke van Velden to ensure that her review of health and safety law puts the voices of workers front and centre.

“Everyone in New Zealand has the right to expect a safe workplace and to be able to come home safely to their family at the end of the day. That must be the number one priority of any review to health and safety laws,” said Wagstaff.

“This review must include robust consultation and engagement with workers and their unions, to ensure best practice health and safety. It is workers who bear the brunt of poor health and safety, the people doing the work are the best placed to understand risks.

“I am concerned that the announcement of this review foreshadows a weakening of a long-standing consensus on improving workplace health and safety in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The current Health and Safety Act is generally working well, and it is line with international best practice. What we need is to build on the current system, and strengthen the law, rather than weaken it.

“This Government’s aversion to regulation must not put the health and safety of workers at risk. Good health and safety relies on having a strong regulator, capable employers, and informed and empowered workers working together.

“Good businesses know the importance of health and safety, it’s not a tacked-on compliance cost but a standard part of good business practice.

“Under the Minister’s watch, WorkSafe has undertaken job cuts and is under further pressure to find even more cost savings. This is a recipe for further workplace injuries and death.

“This review is a great opportunity to strengthen New Zealand’s approach to health and safety. Some easy wins for the Minister would be to ban engineered stone and introduce corporate manslaughter legislation,” said Wagstaff.

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