Damning report on NZ health & safety indicts us all – NRC

In News4 MinutesBy Gavin MyersJune 14, 2024

This week a report crossed my desk that was very hard reading. The Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum has produced a report that is essential reading for everyone who employs staff.

The report pulls no punches. On the first page, it says “New Zealand’s ongoing failure to learn and improve safety and health at work is disgraceful.”

The most concerning parts of the report that leapt out to me were:

The government’s 2018-2028 Health and Safety Strategy has no action plan or implementation

  • A worker is almost twice as likely to be killed at work in New Zealand than if they were working in Australia
  • The cost of harm in 2022 to the New Zealand economy was estimated as $4.4b in lost productivity

As the report says, “New Zealand’s future must be one in which safety, health and productivity are seen as mutually reinforcing objectives for business and for government.” We keep our people safe because it is the right thing to do, but it also pays off. Workers who are kept safe are more productive, so there is a direct productivity return for those who invest in the safety of their staff.

That New Zealand continues to lag behind other countries is deeply disappointing, and all of us should be exceptionally determined to do something about it. We all have families and loved ones. We all deserve to go home from work uninjured.

Pleasingly, one of the key recommendations of the report was that business and government purposefully, relentlessly and persistently identify and action collective solutions that are proven, effective and efficient. This is core to how National Road Carriers operates with government and NZTA as the regulator. Our role is to accurately represent the needs and share the state of the transport industry, so that collectively we can work towards the best possible safety outcomes.

The report also pointed to a lack of regulatory clarity for too many businesses. In transport, I think the regulatory obligations are relatively clear, the issue is with education. Too many transport operators are not informed on their obligations.

Transport is one of the highest risk industries when it comes to workplace accidents. Keeping our people safe starts with us as individuals, and then collectively in the organisations we work for. Safety begins with our own actions, the government and regulators are there to set the framework and rules, and it’s up to us to operate within that framework.

Speed Limit Changes Confirmed

On the good news front Transport Minister Simeon Brown confirmed that the coalition government is reversing the blanket speed limit reductions introduced by the previous government.

In addition they are also asking the public if they want to travel at 120km/h on suitable roads.

Proposals will have to go through public consultation but the government plans to introduce them by 1 July 2025.

Setting speed limits for Roads of National Significance of up to 120km/h (for light vehicles) and reversing speed limit reductions for local streets, arterial roads and state highways will help to reduce travel times and therefore labour costs for freight operators.

Lastly, I’m looking forward to catching up with lots of our members at our Annual General Meeting next Friday 21st June at the Alexandra Park Raceway. It’s been a great year for NRC, so if you haven’t already you can get yourself registered here.

– By Justin Tighe-Umbers, CEO, National Road Carriers