Remembering those killed on the job

By Heather McCracken

Today we remember those who have lost their lives while at work. Photo / File
Today we remember those who have lost their lives while at work. Photo / File

Services around the country are being held to mark Workers Memorial Day today, including an Auckland event commemorating forestry workers who have died on the job.

The Council of Trade Unions event at the NZ Maritime Club from 12pm will remember the 28 forestry workers who have died since 2008.

CTU President Helen Kelly said already this year three workers have died and four have been seriously injured in New Zealand's most dangerous industry.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union Workers are also holding events at port and rail depots around the country.

"Workers Memorial Day is a time to recommit to fighting for the best possible health and safety standards so that workers return home safely each night to their loved ones," Union spokesman Wayne Butson said.

"This requires the commitment of workers and employers to change our attitudes and behaviours, and to speak out if we see an unsafe act or bad systems."

Labour Minister Simon Bridges said the day was a time to remember not only those who've been killed or injured at work, but their friends and families.

"The trauma of a workplace death never leaves those who are closest - family, friends and work colleagues. In some cases, these people can spend months, maybe years, caring for a loved one undergoing rehabilitation."

"Next week the Independent Taskforce on Health and Safety will report with what I anticipate will be wide-ranging recommendations for reform of the system to bring down the death and injury toll in our workplaces," Mr Bridges said.

"I intend considering these recommendations carefully.

"The Government has already moved to establish a Crown agent with a dedicated focus on health and safety. This was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission on Pike River and an early recommendation of the Taskforce."

The government was making good progress on following up on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, he said.

Meanwhile, a new book on New Zealand rail safety will be launched at an event at the Lower Hutt KiwiRail workshops this morning. Wellington health and safety barrister Hazel Armstrong's book Your life for the job: New Zealand rail safety 1974-2000 documents the spate of fatalities that lead up to the 2000 Tranz Rail inquiry.

Five workers died in twelve months leading up to May 2000. Eleven died between 1995 and 2000.

- APNZ

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