New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Receiving $37 Million Increase
New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety will receive a $37 million boost over the next four years, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson recently announced. Wilkinson also has ordered a full review of the country’s health and safety system by an independent taskforce to ensure it is fit-for-purpose.
“Too many New Zealanders are injured or killed at work. People have a right to know that when they leave for work in the morning, they will be coming home safe and well at the end of the day,” Wilkinson commented in remarks following the announcement. [WCx]
The extra funding will be used to increase the number of front-line health and safety inspectors, further fund the High Hazards Unit, support targeted health and safety initiatives, and develop ICT to improve data sharing and analysis.
“This investment will bolster the health and safety inspectorate and support initiatives to help improve the culture of workplace safety in New Zealand.” The number of inspectors will increase to 180 over three years – a 20 percent increase that will place New Zealand in line with Australia.
“We have seen from the success of the High Hazards Unit the importance of having the right people on the ground working closely with businesses,” Wilkinson said. “I have set a target of a 25 percent reduction in workplace deaths and serious injuries by 2020. A strong and effective regulator is the cornerstone of any health and safety system, and this funding will help ensure this target is met.”
According to Wilkinson, the independent taskforce, once established, will be asked to report back by the end of the year with fresh ideas to improve the system. The Government willrespond separately to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Pike River but any advice provided by the commission on wider health and safety issues will be considered as part of the review. [WCx]
“We need to know whether our current health and safety system is fit-for-purpose and provides the right base to reduce workplace harm,” Wilkinson noted. “Our health and safety legislation is now 20 years old. This review is timely, particularly with the rebuild in Canterbury gearing up, and the Royal Commission due to report back in September.”
The additional funding is a result of contributions to the Health and Safety in Employment Levy.
Minnesota Congressman Seeks Answers on Mine Safety
Minnesota congressman John Kline (R) sent a letter the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) requesting an explanation as to why statistics indicate its workers are more likely to be injured on the job than miners and other industry workers according to the Associated Press.
In the letter, Kline noted U.S. Labor Department data shows MSHA had a rate of 5.69 injuries and illnesses per 100 employees during a five-year period, compared with a rate of 2.81 for the mining industry. Kline is seeking to have MSHA report on its plans to improve safety among its employees. [WCx]
“MSHA has stated its “culture of prevention embeds safety and health as core values in all initiatives and ongoing activities,” Kline wrote in a letter to MSHA chief Joe Main. “However, it appears this core value is not being instilled in MSHA’s own safety and health initiatives.”
According to MSHA spokesman Jesse Lawder, the agency is reviewing Kline’s request. “MSHA takes the health and safety of its employees very seriously,” Lawder added.
Federal data indicates MSHA’s injury and illness rate decreased from 6.7 per 100 employees in 2008 to 5.2 last year (2011). But MSHA’s total injury and illness cases last year were approximately three times higher than the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to Kline.
In 2007, an MSHA inspector was among nine rescuers and miners who died in accidents 10 days apart at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah. [WCx]
The purpose of the Mine Safety and Health Administration is to prevent death, disease, and injury from mining and to promote safe and healthful workplaces for the nation’s miners.
<pAuthor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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