Tauranga's most dangerous jobs revealed

By Scott K MacLeod

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More than 14,000 people claimed compensation for work-related injuries in the Bay of Plenty last year. Photo/file
More than 14,000 people claimed compensation for work-related injuries in the Bay of Plenty last year. Photo/file

People working in fishing, transport, warehouse and postal industries are among more than 14,000 Bay of Plenty workers who claimed compensation for work-related injuries last year.

That's according to the latest figures from the Accident Compensation Corporation, showing work-related injury claims that it accepted as genuine.

The figures are good news in the sense that fewer Bay people are making claims compared with a decade ago, despite the region's ballooning population.

The number of claimants, 14,400, was down from the 18,000 people a year claiming compensation in the Bay in the early to mid 2000s.

Bay workers are involved with many high-risk occupations in the fishing, transport, warehouse and postal industries. The new figures show that people working in those fields, as well as basic labouring jobs such as cleaning and collecting rubbish, have the highest percentage chance of being injured.

These "elementary occupation workers", which also includes jobs such as pest controllers, hotel porters and courier drivers, made 238 legitimate claims per 1000 full-time equivalent employees across the nation in 2015, which was the same rate as the year before.

Farms used to be the riskiest workplaces but have slipped down the list in the latest statistics.

Bay union chiefs were still mulling over the figures yesterdayand were reluctant to comment. One union representative said she "couldn't make head nor tail" of the statistics.

First Union's retail organiser for the Bay of Plenty, Kirstin Miller,said that she "hadn't noticed any reduction" in injuries in the retail sector. There was a trend towards under-staffing, prompting workers to lift heavier weights than they should.

"It seems to be pretty consistent," she said.

Statistics NZ collaborative development manager Michele Lloyd said the figures were provisional but a good indication of what the finalised data would look like when it was released next year.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association's employment relations and safety manager, Paul Jarvie, said the new Health and Safety at Work Act should help to push the number of claimants lower in future.

"We've seen a marked increase in health and safety being a key agenda item at every board meeting as a result of the new framework," he said. "From an employer's perspective, it makes sense to have your staff healthy and at work, rather than not at work because of an injury."

The worst region was Gisborne/Hawke's Bay, which had 151 injury claims per 1000 full-time jobs. The Bay of Plenty's rate, 116, was slightly worse than the national average of 110.

Men were more than twice as likely as women to make ACC claims in the Bay and throughout New Zealand.

Nationally, the manufacturing industry had the highest number of claims in 2015, with 17 per cent of all claims, followed by the construction industry with 15 per cent of all claims. The industry with the highest rate of work-related claims was the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry with 206 claims for every 1000 full-time workers.

Self-employed workers were more likely to experience workplace injuries than employees were, a trend that has occurred since 2002.

Bay ACC Injuries

Men: 10,100
Women: 4300
Total: 14,400

- Bay of Plenty Times

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