27 Nov 2014

Call to strengthen workplace safety bill

4:05 pm on 27 November 2014

A union fears the meat processing industry could become the poster child for horror workplace incidents if more was not done to protect workers.

The Meat Workers Union today called on a select committee considering the Health and Safety Reform Bill at Parliament to ensure that workers were safe.

The union said there had been 1600 ACC claims from injured meat workers in the past 12 months and believed profit was being put ahead of health and safety in the sector.

Campaign manager Darien Fenton urged the committee not to weaken provisions in the bill, but strengthen them.

Ms Fenton said there were horror stories aplenty in the industry.

"In one instance, a worker suffered a deep cut to his arm, was in pain and couldn't move his wrist or feel his arm. The HR manager, who also was the health and safety manager in that plant, refused to take him for medical treatment.

"He sat outside that plant for three-and-a-half hours asking his workmates to take him to hospital. Finally, a woman came along with her kids in the back of the car and took him for medical treatment."

There must be health and safety representatives in workplaces, as well as related training for workers, she told MPs.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs