16 Jul 2015

WorkSafe campaign boosts house prices - thinktank

11:00 am on 16 July 2015

A public policy thinktank says a Government campaign to prevent falls on residential construction sites is adding thousands of dollars to the cost of new homes.

The New Zealand Initiative says the campaign by WorkSafe is not justified, and is also raising the costs of home additions, repairs and maintenance.

However Graham Burke, president of the Specialist Trade Contractors Federation, said the safety measures had been a success.

"Falls from height, even those from under three metres, are a significant cost. Even a smashed ankle or a broken knee, a lot of those injuries are carried for life, they have significant costs for ACC and for society.

Mr Burke said there had been an almost 30 percent reduction in accidents related to working from heights in residential construction since the scheme was introduced.

Council of Trade Unions' president Helen Kelly said the report was wrong, and that the thinktank was arguing that profit should be put ahead of worker safety.

"This report basically says it's worth the price that workers pay for falling to save the construction industry a bit of money on the house price.

"Actually, it's contrary to what the construction industry itself is calling for."

Ms Kelly said she believed the report had been released now to put further pressure on the Government to water down its health and safety legislation.