17 Jul 2023

Concern for workplace health and safety course

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 17 July 2023

New Zealand has a dismal record of deaths and injuries in the workplace, and there are concerns about what could happen if a post-graduate health and safety course at Victoria University is among those dumped to save costs.

The University is the only one in the country to offer a specialised post-grad programme in workplace health and safety, but the institution has been reviewing which staff and courses will need to be cut in order to make savings.

The Workplace Health and Safety programme has been offered since 2020 - part of a push after the Pike River mining disaster to reduce harm at work.

In the first four months of this year there have already been 28 deaths as the result of a workplace accident, and seven thousand injuries that resulted in people being off work for a week or more.

And Worksafe estimates there are between 750 to 900 work-related health deaths each year. 

Susie speaks with Mike O'Brien,  independent chair of the Health and Safety Association New Zealand and Joanne Crawford, who's WorkSafe New Zealand Chair in Health and Safety at Victoria University's School of Health - and is one of the programme's lecturers.

Construction site safety signage.

Construction site safety signage. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Workplace deaths and injuries are common in New Zealand, and the possible loss of a course to combat it is raising concern.