WorkSafe | Comms in response to RNZ reporting

WorkSafe has issued the below statement in response to RNZ reporting on workplace fatalities:

"There has been reporting on Radio New Zealand this morning regarding the number of workplace fatalities which we would like to clarify.

In July last year, to provide a fuller more transparent picture, WorkSafe changed the way it reported work fatalities on its website, creating a single work-related fatalities dataset.

Prior to this, WorkSafe presented fatalities notified to WorkSafe on its website as well as fatalities that met the fatality reduction target criteria (SWIFT fatalities) separately.

Feedback was that it was confusing having two different datasets. The new dataset now combines information to create a simplified and more comprehensive view.

Radio New Zealand has suggested that as a result of this change, workplace fatality numbers have “shot up”.  In fact, what has happened is that data has been aggregated and reported by WorkSafe to present a fuller, more transparent picture of the number of work-related fatalities across the health and safety system.

The information in this new reporting has always been available in either underlying data tables on our website or from Stats NZ.

As WorkSafe works to integrate fatality data from other agencies, for example Maritime New Zealand and CAA, these will also be integrated into the new combined measure.

There is no sudden unreported increase in workplace fatalities.

While recent work by WorkSafe and by the University of Otago has highlighted the work-related component of the road toll, the New Zealand Police remain the most appropriate agency to investigate road deaths.  We have a Memorandum of Understanding with Police that they will advise us of health and safety issues if they arise during an investigation and we will then determine whether a health and safety investigation should be initiated.

WorkSafe also has programmes in place targeting health and safety in the Postal, Transport and Warehouse sector, and suggestions made as part of Radio New Zealand’s report to suggest otherwise were not accurate.

As of today, WorkSafe has been notified of seven work-related fatalities in 2020. With a tragic start to the year, lifting New Zealand’s health and safety performance is a business priority for WorkSafe and should be for all sectors.

WorkSafe is committed to supporting New Zealanders to return home from work healthy and safe."

Listen to the original report below: