Harmful substances kill workers at ten times the rate of accidents

New Zealand workers die from exposure to harmful substances 10 times more often than from accidents, Worksafe says.

About 60 people die each year from accidents at work, but research carried out for Worksafe in 2012 showed that between 600 and 900 die each year from work-related illnesses, the watchdog organisation said.

Chief executive Nicole Rosie told a conference in Nelson this week the number one killer was cancer linked to exposure from asbestos.

"Second in there is silicosis, then exposure to [other] hazardous substances and fertilisers fit into this category.

"Also in this area is shift work, and hours of work which are highly co-related with both cancer and heart disease."

The Ministry of Health said asbestos exposure was mainly the result of breathing in air that contained asbestos fibres, including from windblown soil from hazardous waste sites.

Ms Rosie said Worksafe had been set three key targets since it was established, including a 25 percent reduction in workplace fatalities, serious harm and time away from work.

She said at the moment New Zealand averaged 2.6 deaths per 100,000 workers annually in workplace incidents compared with with 0.5 to 0.8 deaths per 100,000 workers in the UK and 1.5 deaths per 100,000 in Australia.

Ms Rosie said it was not correct that New Zealand had higher risk industries than others.

"All countries that have put a focus on health and safety have seen reductions in statistics. There is a method to improving health and safety and there's no reason why New Zealand can't be world class."

Statistics showed workers in the agricultural sector were between seven and nine times more likely to die than the average for New Zealand workers. The predominant cause of death was exposure to harmful substances such as the chemicals in fertilisers.

Automation had led to a drop in forestry and construction deaths, but exposure to harmful substances remained the predominant cause of death in the agricultural sector.

Ms Rosie said foremost of the three elements that made health and safety effective were leadership.

"The leader at the top who thinks it's all compliance, a waste of time and all about paperwork, then we know we will not get a change in health and safety performance.

"Best Practice organisations, without a doubt the first thing they need to attend to is their leaders, and the focus of their leaders, and those at the forefront will invariably say, the first person they had to change was themselves."

Ms Rosie said work-fit employees, which was linked to fatigue, was a critical issue that was going to need better management.

"People must have sufficient time between rosters to sleep. The traditional eight-hour day has changed and the way we manage things like fatigue has to change for us to be able to cope with a rapidly changing world."

She said a risk-based rather than rules-based approach was important.

"We will not be able to create the rules fast enough to deal with the changing dynamics and environment we're now living in."

Employee engagement in the health and safety process was also important, Ms Rosie said.


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Mobile laundry and shower service launched for rough sleepers in Auckland

A mobile laundry and shower service for rough sleepers has been launched in Auckland, providing the facilities for free out of a van. 

Orange Sky, an Australian charity organisation, made the jump across the ditch and would be partly funded by Ministry of Housing. 

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the mobile services could bring rough sleepers "one of the simple things we take for granted". 

"While superficially the service is about clean clothes and showers, the main benefits are the social interactions, the conversations and the opportunity for social services to reach out to rough sleepers.

"It continues to build our picture of homelessness and helps us shape the support systems we need on the ground," he said. 

Orange Sky would work with Housing First in Auckland, and would be introducing other services around New Zealand. It currently has 27 van across Australia. 


Kiwis fined by Israeli courts over cancelled Lorde concert raising money for Gaza mental health

The Kiwis behind an open letter urging Lorde not to perform in Israel are raising money for mental health in Gaza after they were ordered by the Israeli courts to pay a NZ$19,000 fine.

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab must pay three Israeli teenagers thousands in damages for harming their "artistic welfare" over the cancelled concert, which was to to be performed in Tel Aviv. 

The concert, scheduled for June 2018, was cancelled by the Kiwi singer last December, after the women wrote an open letter to the star asking her to reconsider. 

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab say they won’t pay, and are fundraising for mental health services in Gaza instead. Source: 1 NEWS

"We will not be paying the court ordered amount. Instead, we would like to redirect the support extended to us back to Palestinians in need of mental health support," the pair said on their givealittle page.

Ms Sachs and Ms Abu-Shanab said the crowdfounding campaign was launched in the hopes of raising USD$12,000 for the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, which helps provide financial support for mental health support organisations.

As of 4.44pm, the pair raised $1,651.36 in donations from 40 donors.

To donate to the givealittle page, click here.

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab. Source: Givealittle / Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab

Weasel caught in trap at Wellington wildlife sanctuary after footprints found

Zealandia has caught a weasel after its footprints were found in the Wellington wildlife sanctuary on Monday last week.

The female weasel was found in a Department of Conservation trap today by a Zealandia ranger, at the southern end of the sanctuary where the animal was first detected.

Conservation and Research Manager Dr Danielle Shanahan is delighted with the result, saying the quick detection of the weasel dramatically reduces the risk to the sanctuary's wildlife.

"We'll continue to monitor things closely, keeping traps, camera traps and tracking tunnels out there until we're convinced that it was just the one animal," Dr Shanahan said.

Around 110 DOC200 traps were set in the urban wildlife sanctuary, baited with rabbit meat and eggs. 

Camera traps were also set, capturing the weasel on video three times at the same location.