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WorkSafe New Zealand launched
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WorkSafe New Zealand launched

16 December 2013

WorkSafe New Zealand starts work this morning to transform New Zealand-wide attitudes and performance in workplace health and safety.

WorkSafe NZ Chair, Professor Gregor Coster says the new Crown Agency has the mandate and the resources to play its critical role in looking to ensure workers in New Zealand come home healthy and safe every day.

“For the first time in recent history, the workplace health and safety regulator is now properly funded, high on the Government’s agenda, and breaking into the consciousness of more and more Kiwis.

“This is a unique opportunity and I give a commitment to every workplace that the Board, leadership and staff of WorkSafe New Zealand will make a positive difference.

“It is not our task alone. Every worker, every union, every health and safety advisor, every manager and every employer has a role to play.

“While we are committed to a collaborative approach, WorkSafe NZ as the health and safety regulator will enforce strongly where it has to.

“The current state of health and safety in the workplace is not good enough – the 75 deaths every year and the numerous serious injuries are stark evidence of that. However we have an unprecedented opportunity to make a real difference.” 



Key WorkSafe New Zealand facts and figures

The challenge

  • Each year in New Zealand workplaces, 75 people die and a further 6000 suffer serious harms.
  • The Government has set a target of reducing the workplace death and serious injury rates by 25 percent by 2020, and WorkSafe NZ will lead the effort to achieve this target.
  • Another 600-900 people are estimated to die each year and about 30,000 people a year suffer from occupationally related harms. WorkSafe NZ is expected to set occupational health-related reduction targets in its first year of operation.

Meeting the challenge

  • The WorkSafe NZ Priorities:
    • WorkSafe will target businesses at high risk of acute, chronic or catastrophic harms or where there is a history of risk, without placing an unnecessary burden on low-risk businesses.
    • We will build high quality working relationships with industry and workers – and their representative organisations, such as Business NZ and NZCTU – and work collaboratively with other government agencies and communities of interest on new initiatives. An example is an Injury Prevention Action Plan with ACC.
    • We will continue to focus on the Canterbury rebuild, which as you will know, is of an unprecedented size and scale in NZ history.
    • We will support business through our education and information function so businesses can comply easily with the new regime when it is in place.
    • We will continue to recruit and train to increase the capability of our leadership and inspectorate staff, and develop robust organisational systems.
  • WorkSafe NZ is a stand-alone agency that started operations on 16 December 2013. It regulates and enforces workplace health and safety and energy and gas safety.
  • WorkSafe NZ takes over the staff and functions of the Health and Safety Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (previously the Department of Labour).
  • WorkSafe NZ’s total inspectorate resource will be boosted by more than 65%. This will include increasing the number of core inspectors from 115 to 200, and the number of High Hazards and Major Facilities inspectors from 6 to 29.
  • The WorkSafe NZ budget will be $80 million per annum compared to the previous $53 million per annum for the former Health & Safety Group.
  • WorkSafe NZ has its own Board chaired by Professor Gregor Coster. The other directors are Paula Rose, Patrick Strange, Ross Wilson, Don Stock, Chris Ellis and Kerry Prendergast.
  • Acting Chief Executive is Geoffrey Podger, formerly Chief Executive of the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for seven years. A former colleague of Mr Podger’s, Gordon MacDonald, who has had a 35-year career with HSE, will become the permanent Chief Executive on 17 March 2014.
  • WorkSafe NZ enforces a number of pieces of legislation including: Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992; Electricity Act 1992; Gas Act 1992; Plumbers Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006;
  • New legislation will be introduced early in 2014 to replace the Health and Safety in Employment Act. In the new legislation there will be;
    • a general duty for all business owners and managers to consult and involve workers
    • greater powers and functions for health and safety representatives
    • stronger protections for workers who raise H&S concerns
    • more guidance for firms of all sizes and types on how to involve workers.

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