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More serious injuries in construction drive non-fatal work-related injury rates up

A rise in serious injuries in the construction sector drove an increase in work-related serious non-fatal injury rates in 2017 after four years of declines, Statistics New Zealand said today.

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The rate was up from 14.3 injuries per 100,000 full-time employees in 2016 to 16.9 in 2017, higher than the government's 2020 target of 14.3 injuries per 100,000 full-time employees.

"This increase was largely driven by a rise in serious non-fatal injuries in the construction sector, which had the highest number of injuries in the history of this release," government injury information manager James Clarke said.

The manufacturing, and transport, postal, and warehousing sectors also significantly contributed to the increase, Stats NZ said.

Serious non-fatal injuries are those in which a patient admitted to hospital is determined to have a probability of death of 6.9 per cent or more, Mr Clarke said. 

"Information about these injuries provides insight into injury risks for New Zealanders, and a broader view than just looking at fatalities," he said.

In 2012, the previous Government set a target to reduce work-related deaths and injuries by at least 25 per cent by 2020, with an interim target of a 10 per cent reduction by 2016. 

Fatalities are reported as a three-year moving average. Provisional data showed that for 2015-17, the average annual rate of work-related fatal injuries remained at 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 full-time employees.

The latest data showed that the rate has been below the Government's 2018-20 target of 2.5 injuries per 100,000 since 2012-14.

Responding to today's figures, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway said he'll be launching the Government's  Health and Safety Strategy in coming weeks.

"We've made significant progress since Pike River but now is not the time for complacency. We still lag far behind comparable countries.

"I'll be launching the Government's wide-ranging Health and Safety Strategy in coming weeks, which will provide a clear direction for reducing work-related harm," the minister said.