Seven workplace deaths in 24 days highlights safety message need
25 January 2008
Seven people have died in New Zealand workplaces in the last 24 days, including five in the agricultural sector.
Department of Labour workplace services manager, Maarten Quivooy, said the number threatened to reach the same level as summer 2005/06, one of the worst seasons for workplace deaths in recent years. In that summer 10 people died in workplace deaths in three weeks.
Mr Quivooy said nobody should die from doing their job, and most workplace fatalities were avoidable.
Department research on workplace deaths published last year had revealed a number of key findings and these were being deliberately used in the Department’s hard hitting ‘Grim Harvest’ television campaign currently screening nationally. Safety messages could also be found on www.dol.govt.nz/itsnojoke/
Mr Quivooy said the research highlighted a number of issues that influenced workplace deaths including that:
- fatality rates were higher during summer and autumn, ie December to May, than the rest of the year
- men, particularly agriculture workers, aged 55 and 64 years were more likely to die in workplaces than any other group
- fatal incidents often happened in late-morning and mid-afternoon
- farming and forestry sectors had the highest workplace fatality rate, followed by horticulture and fruit growing
- about 50 percent of all work related deaths involved a vehicle; vehicle rollovers accounted for 23 percent of workplace deaths investigated by the Department.
Mr Quivooy said five of the seven workplace fatalities reported this year had involved vehicles. “Of these, three featured vehicle rollovers which further emphasises the need for extra vigilance around farm vehicles,” he said.
Editor’s note: PDFs of the Grim Harvest advert to illustrate stories are available at http://dol.govt.nz/itsnojoke/
A PDF of the Department of Labour research on summertime workplace fatalities is available on http://dol.govt.nz/publications/research/summerfatalities/index.asp