WorkSafe has issued a strategic plan for work-related health, outlining their plan for a New Zealand where, ultimately, fewer people experience work-related ill-health.

Each year an estimated 600 to 900 people die of work-related diseases. This equates to around 15 people per week. Although people are more aware of accidents, a worker is ten times more likely to die from a work-related disease than from a workplace accident. A further 30,000 people each year develop serious but non-fatal work-related ill-health, such as noise-induced hearing loss or non-fatal lung diseases.

The estimated effect on New Zealand is significant:

  • the estimated cost of work-related diseases to New Zealand per year is $2.4 billion;
  • the estimated average cost of lost productivity over a typical worker's career for each case of work-related ill-health is $44,500; and
  • the estimated annual cost of absences workers attribute to work-related ill-health is $120 million.

In the next year, WorkSafe aims to:

  • raise awareness of the importance of healthy work, identify opportunities for collaboration, confirm their approach to 'Health by Design' guidance materials, and aim to include work-related health in the New Zealand Qualifications Framework;
  • agree work-related health inspectorate capabilities, expand guidance on key risks and concepts, build understanding of hazard exposure and confirm their approach to health-related enforcement; and
  • continue their targeted programmes on prioritised risks (such as the Clean Air programme), design upcoming programmes through research and intelligence, and continue their work on health in the Canterbury Rebuild.

Worksafe's aim is that by 2026 they will achieve their vision that "everyone who goes to work comes home healthy and safe."

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