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August 19, 2015

Amendments to the Health and Safety Bill and list of high risk industries anticipated

The Māori Party welcomes the greater transparency over which workers will automatically have a health and safety representative regardless of their company’s size.

“We’ve lobbied hard to have this list released prior to the Health and Safety Bill going back into Parliament,” says Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox.

“We think the bill is an improvement on the current legislation but we wanted to provide certainty for workers and their whānau in industries like mining, forestry and meat production which will include a right to ask for a designated health and safety rep.”

The Minister has released a list of 57 industries today which are deemed high risk and will be required to have a health and safety representative on request, regardless of their company’s size. Other businesses with fewer than 20 staff in lower-risk sectors will not automatically have a health and safety representative under the proposed bill but they can have one if they wish as employers have a duty to engage with workers.

“We know the devastation the loss of lives and workplace injuries have caused whānau and we have done our best to ensure that there are protections in place under the new health and safety legislation,” says Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

The Māori Party is also submitting a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) which will extend the maximum period for whānau (and others) to file a private prosecution from the proposed two years to two years and three months.

“While we would have preferred to extend the period for private prosecutions further, we are pleased to have pushed the Government this far.”

The final change that the Māori Party has included in its SOP will ensure workers have a greater say in the composition of work groups responsible for health and safety in the workplace.

“The amendment we’re proposing will strengthen the requirement for employers to engage with workers on determining the make-up and role of work groups,” says Mrs Fox.

“We want to assure whānau, including those that have come to Parliament this week that we have heard their concerns. Any delay we have caused to the Bill is because of our determination to strengthen the bill as far as possible.”

 

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