Skip to content

Workers Memorial Day a time to reset health and safety

Today, 28th of April, is Worker’s Memorial Day. “We must all take responsibility for better health and safety at work in New Zealand. 100 working people were killed in workplaces in the last year,” said Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff. “It is a sombre reflection that today we also open up many workplaces under COVID-19 level 3, and the health and safety of working people is on everyone’s mind.”

At midday today, union members across New Zealand and the world, will be taking a minute to light a candle and remember the 100 people killed in workplaces, 100 lives too many.”

“We also turn our minds to the international theme of Worker’s Memorial Day, which is ‘Stop the Pandemic at Work’, timely for the re-opening of many worksites under the cloud of COVID -19. We know that internationally there have been thousands of working people exposed. Hundreds of those working in healthcare around the world have died at work trying to save others.”

“In New Zealand, we are proud that our ‘go hard go early’ lockdown has prevented any workplace exposure deaths from COVID-19. We should be taking the same attitude to all health and safety risks at work. “

“The Council of Trade Unions will today be surveying those who went back to the work site today about whether the ’10 checks for a safe return to work’ have been followed. Alert Level 3 is no return to ‘business as usual’ for health and safety. Let the Level 3 re-opening be the reset button we need to treat every workplace risk with the same level of caution we will for COVID-19 – there is no reason any Kiwi should be killed at work,” Wagstaff said. 

NZ Statistics from WorkSafe data centre.

Fatalities: April 2019 – March 2020

100 total

Industry breakdown

Agriculture: 23

Agriculture, Forestry and fishing support services: 1

Arts and recreation: 27 (includes 21 from Whakaari White Island)

Construction: 6

Education and Training: 1

Electricity, gas, water and waste services: 5

Forestry and Logging: 7

Healthcare and social assistance: 2

Manufacturing: 6

Mining: 1

Other: 1

Professional, Scientific and technical services: 1

Public administration and safety: 1

Rental, hiring and real estate services: 3

Transport, postal and warehousing: 13

Unknown: 2