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Workplace deaths down in 2011 but too many dying on the job
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Workplace deaths down in 2011 but too many dying on the job

31 January 2012

Provisional statistics released from the Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) today show there were 41 workplace deaths in New Zealand in 2011, compared with 77 in 2010.

“While there were fewer people dying at work last year, 41 people were tragically unable to return home to their friends and family after a day at work – this is unacceptable,” says the Department’s Deputy Chief Executive Lesley Haines.

“The tragedy at Pike River where 29 men lost their lives saw a spike in the workplace death rate in 2010 and so the figures released today should not be any suggestion for complacency when it comes to health and safety,” Ms Haines says.

“One death at work is too many and there is no excuse for people to be put in danger or at risk of serious injury or ill health while they’re on the job.

More than one third of the workplace fatalities in New Zealand reported to the Department last year were in the agriculture sector.

“This illustrates just how important it is to improve safety on farms across the country – agriculture is an important sector to New Zealand, and farmers, their workers, and the industry cannot afford to ignore health and safety,” Ms Haines says.

“Improving safety in agriculture is a key focus for the Department – the majority of deaths on farms involved vehicles or machinery and this is why we have a three-year quad bike safety campaign under way.

The statistics released today also show the number of serious harm incidents reported to the Department in 2011 remained relatively steady, up approximately 100 from 2010.

One of the industries with the highest number of incidents reported was manufacturing.

“Last year we launched the National Action Agenda – which aims to reduce the work toll in the sectors where the most harm is occurring – agriculture, construction, manufacturing, fishing and forestry,” says Ms Haines.

“We will shortly be releasing an Action Plan to reduce accidents in the manufacturing industry which will have a focus on machine guarding.

“Like the Action Plans already released for construction, forestry and occupational health, this will clearly state that everyone has a role to play in reducing deaths, injury and illness in the workplace.

“The Department will be working hard with employers, employees and organisations across the country to address health and safety issues. However if we’re to make a difference to the work toll, then employers, employees, unions, business groups and sector organisations must also take responsibility for creating safe and health workplaces.”


Notes to Editors

  • View the statistics
  • The statistics are those reported to the Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) in 2011 – they do not include workplace deaths and injuries in the aviation, maritime or road transport sectors as they are covered by the relevant regulatory agencies – Civil Aviation Authority, Maritime NZ and the NZ Police
  • They are provisional statistics and will be finalised in 2013.


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