Region praised for awareness

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

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Taranaki may well be the country's most safety conscious region, the head of a Government taskforce into workplace health and safety says.

Rob Jager, chairman of the Government's Independent Taskforce and Shell NZ, spoke to 20 Taranaki businesses which had recently signed up to Be Safe Taranaki's health and safety in the workplace programme .

Mr Jager said the region's focus on health and safety was far more "alive" than in other provinces due to its prominence in the agricultural and oil and gas industries.

"But it's not quite where it needs to be yet. There's still a long way to go.

"There are still people getting hurt and people being killed."

His comments come after of the recent death of 33-year-old McKechnie Aluminium worker Michael Kane last week and at least eight workplace deaths over the past five years.

Mr Jager said it was impossible to have a successful business if people were continually being injured or killed in the workplace.

"Health and safety really is the most important thing," he said.

"We need to look after the wellbeing of our employees and make sure they leave the same way they came in. We've an obligation to do that."

Mr Jager said on average, more than 100 people died a year in New Zealand due to workplace accidents.

"We are nearly twice as bad as Australia and almost six times as bad as the UK."

Submissions closed last week on a consultation document released by the taskforce in September, which outlined the key issues it saw impacting on workplace health and safety.

Mr Jager said the country's Pike River tragedy had shed some light on certain practices and process which needed improvement.

"All New Zealand has now borne witness to the terrible impact of workplace fatalities," Mr Jager said.

"It's critically important we identify the root causes of these failings and put measures in place to ensure such disasters never happen again, and at the same time help to drastically improve our poor workplace health and safety performance across all industries and workplaces."

Be Safe Taranaki was developed in 2004 to educate and train businesses and their workers about health and safety.

While Be Safe Taranaki initially applied to those businesses in the oil and gas industry, companies from different fields including construction and recruitment agencies were acknowledged yesterday.

TARANAKI WORKPLACE DEATHS

2012 McKechnie Aluminium worker Michael Kane, 33, currently being investigated.

Rata Pue, 55, crushed by a tractor in Pungarehu.

2011 New Plymouth man, 47, died after being crushed by a truck-and-trailer unit.

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2010 Inglewood man, 57, killed after his tractor rolled down a bank.

South Taranaki man, 64, crushed by bulldozer.

2009 New Plymouth man, 38, killed by a D-shackle that flung back and hit him in the head at McCurdy Engineering.

New Plymouth man, 52, died from head and chest injuries in a machinery accident at Fonterra.

2007 Tenix worker, 53, died after being electrocuted while in a cherry picker.

- Taranaki Daily News

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