Disability Sector workers team up with employers on safety

Asia-Pacific, News, April 18 2016

NEW ZEALAND: With the new Health and Safety at Work Act coming into effect on Monday, New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN) and E tū are grabbing the chance to improve health and safety with both hands.

Disability support workers across the country have been attending workshops to learn about the changes, including the new responsibilities for workers and PCBUs, and the new opportunities for participation and representation.

Disability support worker and E tū member Tony Smith attended one of the workshops and says it is great to see his employers continue to take health and safety seriously.

“Our sector sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to health and safety. We might not work in factories or forests, but we have real health and safety concerns that need to be addressed,” Tony says.

“With the new law, workers on the ground are more included in decision making. That means better health and safety outcomes overall.”

“I congratulate our PCBUs for taking this important first step towards improving health and safety in the sector.”

However, Tony has some reservations about the new law.

“I did the WorkSafe course, and it wasn’t really relevant our sector. I’m still to be convinced that the law takes into account the complex and varied nature of health and safety issues across workplaces in New Zealand.”

NZDSN Chief Executive Dr Garth Bennie says the workshops have been a good opportunity for an organisation representing employers to team up with both WorkSafe and unions, sharing information about the new legislation and exploring approaches to implementation in the sector.

“The workshops have highlighted the shared approach to decision-making and the responsibility that is needed around the development of policies and procedures,” Garth says.

“It has also been an opportunity to explore some of the unique challenges and complexities that arise for disability support work and the application of the new legislation in this context.

“Staff are often working across multiple sites and in a wide variety of situations that can be quite complex.”

NZDSN and E tū will continue to work collaboratively to ensure that further training is relevant for the sector and contributes to improved approaches to health and safety.

Source: E Tu

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