Revealed: NZ's most dangerous jobs

Cleaners are in one of the country's most dangerous occupations. Photo / 123RF
Cleaners are in one of the country's most dangerous occupations. Photo / 123RF

Latest figures show cleaners, rubbish collectors, and labourers have the highest rate of injury while at work, which a union leader said reflects a lack of respect for staff in low paid jobs.

Statistics NZ says the "elementary" occupation workers, which also includes jobs such as pest controllers, hotel porters, and courier drivers, had 238 claims per 1000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) in 2015, which was the same rate as the year before.

However, the injury rate for agriculture and fishery group workers, which includes forestry workers, fell from 242 per 1000 workers, to 233 in 2015.

Men are also far more likely to die at work - 92 per cent of death claims are male.

Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said the jobs with higher accident rates now tended to be casualised and low paid.

One crucial way of showing respect for staff was keeping them safe at work, he said.

"These (figures) reflect a lack of concern and respect for these people.''

He said a lack of a safety culture had contributed to the Pike River disaster.

"We've got to create a workplace where people can stand up and be heard.''

Wagstaff said too often the safety message was drowned out by the need for speed which created fertile ground for accidents.

While it was good that the rate had fallen in primary industry jobs, there was a danger that targeting a few sectors for safety would result in accidents increasing in others.

The provisional figures are based on work-related injury claims accepted by the Accident Compensation Corporation. They also show workers in elementary occupations had the highest rate of claims for more serious injuries, with 40 entitlement claims for every 1000 full time workers.

These claims could include death benefits, weekly compensation, lump sums, and rehabilitation payments.

"Workers in the agriculture and fishery occupation, which includes forestry workers, now have the second highest claim rate for the first time since 2007. Between 2008 and 2014, these workers had the highest rate of work-related claims,'' said Statistics NZ collaborative development manager Michele Lloyd.

"Even though this data is provisional, it's usually a good indication of what the finalised data will show, which will be available in 2017."

In total 230,200 claims were made to ACC for a work-related injury - with 31,000 of these for entitlement (more serious) claims.

The overall rate of injury claims was 110 claims for every 1000 full-time equivalent employees.

The fishing industry and the transport, postal, and warehouse industry had the highest numbers of entitlement claims as a proportion of all claims within the industry - both with 21 percent.

Last week it was revealed that so far this year 43 people have died at work - the same number for all of 2015.

The Statistics NZ figures out today show males had the most claims for fatal work-related injuries, with 92 percent of fatal claims.

Workers aged 15-24-years, and workers aged 65 years and over, had the highest claim rates across all age groups.

Trends data for 2002-15 shows that:

• The number of claims has been steadily decreasing since 2005, but has been increasing slightly each year since 2012.

•From 2002-12 the incidence rate fell each year (from 158 claims per 1000 FTEs in 2002 to 111 in 2012). However, this trend has slowed since then to remain around 111 claims per 1000 FTEs.

• The agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry had the highest incidence rate in 2015 with 211 claims per 1,000 FTEs. Since 2014, this industry has had the highest claim rate, overtaking the arts and recreation services industry, which had the highest rate between 2009 and 2013.

• Since 2002, the incidence rate has been consistently higher for self-employed workers than for employees. In 2015, the incidence rate was 147 claims per 1,000 FTEs for self-employed people, compared with 106 claims for employees.

• Agriculture and fishery workers and those in elementary occupations have consistently had the two highest claim rates since trends started in 2002. Just under one quarter of workers in both occupations made a work-related claim in 2015.

- NZ Herald

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