The Burden of Occupational Disease and Injury in New Zealand: Technical Report
The National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee (NOHSAC) is responsible for providing independent advice to the Minister of Labour on occupational health and safety issues in New Zealand. NOHSAC plays a key role in providing an independent assessment to the Minister on the major occupational health and safety issues for the New Zealand workforce, of advising on the measures that would deliver the greatest benefit for the prevention of occupational injury and disease, and in developing an evidence-based approach to occupational health and safety issues.
This report, NOHSAC's first, is designed to provide a thorough understanding of the current state of occupational injury and disease in New Zealand, based on published information. This will in turn provide the evidence base for decisions by NOHSAC and the Minister regarding future activities and priorities.
The overall aim of the project was to provide a thorough and critical review of the burden of both fatal and non-fatal occupational disease and injury in New Zealand. This primarily involved a general review of the major established causes of occupational disease and injury, but we also attempted to produce specific quantitative estimates of the numbers of deaths and new cases of disease and injury from specific occupational causes.
This report is a starting point, based on what is currently known, or can be reasonably inferred from international evidence. The intention is to update it at regular internals, to take advantage of better quality information and to track performance in occupational health and safety in New Zealand.
The methodology for the report is described in Section 2. The report then has three main results sections. Section 3 presents information on the major occupational causes of infectious diseases, cancer, mental or neuropsychiatric disorders, diseases of the nervous system, vascular diseases, respiratory diseases, hepatic disease, diseases of the genitourinary system, non-cancerous skin conditions, musculoskeletal conditions, noise-induced hearing loss, vibration disorders, chemical poisoning/toxicity, reproductive risks, multiple chemical sensitivity, and fatal and non-fatal injury. Section 4 presents information on other aspects of workplace hazards including shift work, environmental tobacco smoke, job strain and job control, noise, occupational disease and injury in Māori, the changing nature of work, latency considerations, and the costs of occupational disease and injury. Section 5 presents quantitative information on the burden of occupational disease and injury due to occupational exposures in New Zealand. The focus is on fatal conditions, but non-fatal conditions are also included where possible.
The implications of the results for surveillance, research and prevention are considered in Sections 6 and 7, before a brief summary and concluding remarks.