New health and safety law worse than what it replaces

Workers have been let down by the National Government’s new Health and Safety Reform Bill which in many ways is worse than what it replaces, the Green Party said following the release of the Select Committee Report into the bill today.

“The review of health and safety laws was supposed to make workplaces safer for workers, but it looks like it’ll actually do the opposite,” Green Party workplace relations spokesperson Denise Roche said.

“National seems to have given in to industry lobbyists who have pushed the Government to water down health and safety laws, to the disadvantage of working New Zealanders.

“Cutting supposedly low risk workplaces with less than 20 staff out of the legislation puts workers at small and medium-sized workplaces at risk and adds another layer of bureaucracy around what exactly the meaning of ‘low risk’ is.

“National is making it easier for workers to be shut out of health and safety rulemaking processes, even though evidence from the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety is very clear that worker participation and engagement in health and safety makes a big difference to outcomes.

“It’s very concerning that the Government is basically trying to exclude directly employed homecare workers from health and safety protections.

“National’s internal politics have led to the basic rights of workers to be safe at work being pushed aside.

“It looks like backbench murmurs within the National Party escalated quickly to arguments around the Cabinet table, and now workers will pay the price of National’s ideological opposition to workplace health and safety.

“The Green Party believes that it’s a fundamental right to be safe at work,” said Ms Roche.