No one should die at work but Napier MP and Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash says new proposals should help make sure more New Zealanders make it home at night.

"We have to have an expectation that when men and woman go to work they return safely and anything else is unacceptable in the 21st Century," he said.

"People dying at work is just not on."

The Government this month published a draft 10-year strategy setting out its priorities for health and safety, and addresses any gaps in the system.


"It's about creating a culture where workers have a mandate to say, 'no, I'm not going to work in this situation because it's unsafe'," Nash said.

"It's not good enough having a near-miss and then carrying on as nothing happened. We have to put processes in place to ensure that today's near-misses do not become tomorrow's fatality."

Workplace Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the strategy, which is now out to public consultation, aimed to prevent complacency and lift safety standards.

"We are still a long way behind the nations that do workplace health and safety well. Our international reputation relies on significant improvement in our workplace injury and death rates.

"We also need to focus on wider risks, including poor health across our workforce, and the growing harm caused by mental health problems, stress, sexual harassment, bullying, delivering on ever-increasing expectations and fatigue.

"It needs to be more than an all-of-government approach. All of us – business, workers, families, colleagues, and mates – need to be all in."

The strategy calls on businesses to prioritise effective risk management, especially to ensure that small-to-medium enterprises, high-risk sectors, Maori and other workers at greater risk are well supported.

Systems need to be smarter, to improve how health and safety information and solutions are collected, used and shared.
Māori are 44 per cent more likely to be at risk of harm, and Pasifika and workers from other ethnic backgrounds also share a similar burden of risk because, said Lees-Galloway, they tend to work in dangerous industries, like forestry and agriculture, and to have more precarious employment arrangements, and reducing that risk is a key aim of the strategy.


"There are great opportunities for young Maori in forestry, so we owe it to them, their friends and whanau to make that industry as safe as possible for them.

WorkSafe New Zealand and MBie will hold a series of workshops on the draft strategy around the country this month.