11 Mar 2016

Labour slams 'non-high risk' agriculture stat

3:52 pm on 11 March 2016

Workplace Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse told Parliament this week that agriculture was not high-risk on a proportional basis.

King Country farmland

Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

Eight agricultural workers have been killed and more than 200 seriously harmed on the job, he said, since regulations were passed in August which did not classify it a high-risk industry.

"It really depends on the size of the industry and the trajectory that they're on," he said.

The new regulations, which come into force next month, controversially don't classify agriculture as a high risk sector - meaning farm workers are not entitled to health and safety representatives.

However, more New Zealanders die and are hurt in agriculture than in any other sector.

Labour's associate workplace safety spokeswoman Sue Moroney said figures from the Parliamentary Library showed agricultural workers were nearly 20 times more likely to die on the job.

"For every 100,000 employed in the agricultural sector, there are 15 deaths in New Zealand, compared with non-agricultural workers where there is less than one death in every 100,000."

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