A 10-year plan to address health risks in New Zealand’s workplaces was launched tonight in Wellington by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Hon Michael Woodhouse.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s strategic plan for work-related health, ‘Healthy Work’, outlines the approach WorkSafe will take over the coming ten years to support and enable businesses to better manage work-related health risks. Each year, these risks kill 600-900 people and lead to a further 30,000 New Zealand workers developing serious, but non-fatal, work-related health conditions.

“Each one of those figures is a real person who has died or has become unwell as a result of their work and for too long we’ve put work-related health in the ‘too hard basket’,” Mr Woodhouse said.

“We can’t fix the issues arising from past exposures, but with strong leadership from across the health and safety system, and everyone demonstrating greater accountability for managing work-related health risks, we can significantly improve health outcomes in our workplaces for the future,” he said.

The plan focuses on enabling greater leadership across the health and safety system by raising awareness of harm and risks, encouraging collaboration, minimising risks at source and influencing the education system to improve understanding of risks. It also guides WorkSafe’s approach to building the capability of its inspectors, improving data and intelligence, providing guidance and education resources, and enhancing the regulatory framework.

“We will address prioritised risks through a series of targeted intervention programmes so that we achieve a step change in performance,” the Chair of WorkSafe, Professor Gregor Coster, said.

“Beyond the high human cost to individuals, their families, whanau and communities, work-related diseases cost this country an estimated $2.4 billion per year. The human and financial costs are simply unacceptable,” he said.

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