Up to 20 lives may have been saved during lockdown as workers stayed home

Some 20 lives may have been saved in the past two months, simply by not going to work.

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WorkSafe says businesses need to put as much thought into safety as into the fight against Covid-19. Source: 1 NEWS

Figures from Worksafe show one person died due to a workplace accident during the lockdown period, compared to 19 people during the same time last year.

Worksafe Chief Executive Phil Parkes says there’s been “huge innovation” across the country to manage Covid-19 and he wants to see the same innovation applied to traditional health and safety.

“If we can have a team of five million finding different ways to work to manage traditional risks, we're going to significantly reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that happen every month.”

With many businesses getting back to work under Level 2, there are concerns lower-risk businesses might be under the pump and struggling to manage risks in a changed work environment.

Mr Parkes says Worksafe has been talking to the hospitality and retail industries, “so there's a good opportunity for us to improve health and safety across the whole economy as New Zealand builds towards its recovery”.

Business NZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says there’s “certainly a lot of pressure” to get back into the workplace and re-establish contact with customers and get demand and productivity back up.

But he says its all the more reason for employers and workers to tackle safety together.

“The key thing is to talk to your staff about it so that they really understand that themselves and you can have a good conversation with them about some of those risks, because often they are the people who of course spot the risks first.”

Phil Parkes agrees and says he knows of a garage workplace which moved its operations outside to meet the social distancing requirements.

“The workers were more efficient and enjoyed being out in the fresh air, so they're actually going to keep working outside even after the Covid restrictions finish.”

108 people died in New Zealand workplaces last year.