November 8, 2004
Loosen rules on workplace compensation
The Government must consider loosening the rules around compensation for workplace accidents and illnesses in the wake
of a report that shows some 1000 New Zealanders a year die of work-related conditions, says the country’s largest union.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that the report, by the National
Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee released today, showed just how bad New Zealand’s workplace health and
safety record was.
“The Government must address this problem seriously and urgently,” he said.
“We have hundreds of our members and former members dying of diseases like asbestosis and solvent-induced neurotoxicity,
and the way they have been treated is appalling.
“Because many of these conditions take years to develop, it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove exactly when and
where they were contracted. Often, innocent, hard-working people suffer and even die without any official
acknowledgement of what has been done to them, let alone apology or compensation.
“In determining whether compensation is payable, we might just have to accept that diagnoses have to be proven on
likelihoods rather than certainties.”