Work injuries rife in NZ: PB Employment Law

Why is it that New Zealand is an unbelievably dangerous place to work?

Statistics NZ say there were just over 223,000 work-related claims in 2021, which is almost one in 10 workers being injured in some way. A good example of the problem is the recent prosecution of Clyde Orchards.

Paul Brown, Specialist Employment Lawyer

They were prosecuted over an injury to a young man who suffered lifelong injuries to his hands with three fingers needing to be amputated, plus other injuries. Total penalties were a little over 1/4 million dollars. WorkSafe did an investigation on the orchard in 2017 and found another conveyor to be unsafe, which Clyde Orchards fixed.

But nobody did anything about the other conveyors, and I would say the end result was quite predictable. A worker tried to clear a blockage, and his hands got trapped inside the conveyor; there was no mechanism or way to stop the machine, and the results were tragic.

Clyde Orchards have replaced the conveyor and have significantly improved their health and safety systems which is great. I am not victim blaming in any way but let me make a comment about workers in New Zealand generally. Having worked in farming, forestry, and construction, I am (now) amazed at some of the utterly stupid stunts we used to get up to. I think there is a residue of that attitude with workers today – they just do not take their own safety and the safety of others seriously enough.

Every worker is entitled to refuse to carry out unsafe work although, sadly, with a boss yelling at you, that is a rare occurrence.
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