17 Feb 2020

WorkSafe promises to crack down on 'hidden' deaths

From Morning Report, 8:37 am on 17 February 2020

The government agency WorkSafe is promising to clamp down over 'hidden' deaths that have sent the tally of work-place fatalities rocketing.

The official count made in 2018 was 42 deaths.

That more than doubled In 2019 to 86 before the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.

The total in the end for the year was 108 deaths. WorkSafe has realised it had a blind spot over transport deaths for years. It says it's changing tack with the help of $150 million of new money.

At the same time, the agency has been criticised for doing fewer investigations.

The police are making very few health and safety inquiries into road crashes on behalf of WorkSafe and the Transport Agency has so far not replaced the flawed truck operator safety rating system it scrapped a year ago.

WorkSafe's new chief executive Phil Parkes admits it all adds up to a system that's sub optimal - but not that they dropped the ball.

He speaks to Phil Pennington.