Construction Sector Action Plan 2010-2013
4. Construction section initiatives for 2010-13
4.1 Focusing on reducing the work toll: slips, trips and falls from height
The initiatives outlined in this plan aim to reduce work-related injuries and work-related fatalities in the construction sector with a particular focus on activities designed to reduce the rate of falls-related injury. While this will be the primary focus in the short term, a wider range of causative factors will also be identified, and these will provide the basis for future activity.
4.1.1 Why this focus?
Falls-related injuries make a significant contribution to the work toll. Currently, the fatal injury rate for the construction sector is almost triple the average for all other sectors and remains the largest contributor to worker fatalities. The construction sector fatal incidence rate has been trending upwards and is significantly higher than the overall rate in other sectors. Likewise, non-fatal injury claims are only trending down slightly. Slips, trips and falls from height are the most common cause of serious harm injuries reported to the Department of Labour, with 34% of all notification from this sector.
This Sector Action Plan includes a range of targeted interventions for these recurrent health and safety problems. It is a mechanism to engage, involve and focus key stakeholders on a finite set of finite issues.
4.1.2 A multi-faceted approach to intervention
International and local research indicates a multi-faceted approach is the most effective course of action to change behaviour and reduce the work toll. In essence, this means:
- any intervention strategy has to have a balanced mixture of advice (persuasion), enforcement and business incentives
- advice and information alone is less effective (in the absence of the possibility of enforcement)
- inspection, awareness-raising, intermediaries and partners all play an important role in campaigns.
The following initiatives target the harm-based theme of slips, trips and falls from height, and efforts fall within the four national Action Areas identified in the agenda:
- Growing safety leadership (including worker leaders)
- Developing capability
- Building our knowledge
- Supporting a robust health and safety system.
This plan does not attempt to outline all the causative factors relating to the falls-related injury priority – a critical component of this plan’s interventions will be more detailed and extensive analysis of causative factors and consideration of international experiences.
4.2 Working in partnership
This plan has been developed with relevant stakeholders in New Zealand’s construction sector. In particular, the Department of Labour and ACC have closely worked with the newly formed Construction Safety Council in its development. Industry association representatives from the wider construction sector have been working together to develop a health and safety strategy for the entire construction sector. This strategy covers civil, residential and commercial construction and specialist trades and includes establishing a Construction Safety Council with representation from each of these areas.
At a high level, the Council’s vision – ‘Health and safety is worth the effort’ – is underpinned by the following three objectives:
- To collaborate as a single sector to make construction sites safer.
- To make health and safety an integral part of working on a construction site.
- To increase productivity by working safer.
Other stakeholders, including unions and worker representatives, health and safety professionals and practitioners, and Māori and Pacific representatives need to be consulted and involved in the development and delivery of initiatives. This plan provides the opportunity to build these wider and strategic linkages (see Initiative 1.1).
4.3 The next 3 years
The Workplace Health and Safety Council – the peak advisory body to the Minister of Labour – has committed to the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy National Action Agenda and will promote a cultural and practice change needed to reduce the work toll in the identified priority sectors. The Action Agenda seeks to increase awareness of hazards and risks to health and safety in the workplace and to improve knowledge, education and skills in managing workplace health and safety.
The Department of Labour and ACC will work with construction stakeholders, including unions, professionals and practitioners, to improve workplace health and safety performance by agreeing the priority issues that relate to slips, trip and falls from height and working with the sector to:
- further examine and share relevant knowledge and data
- develop sector-specific education and awareness-raising initiatives
- develop sector-accessible best practice solutions to working safely at heights
- provide targeted guidance and compliance to the sector
- undertake regulatory reform where necessary
- undertake more strategic and transparent enforcement action.
The initiatives outlined in this Sector Action Plan mainly focus on residential/commercial construction and the construction trades, as workers’ fatal and serious injury rates and the number of workers involved in these areas indicate a need to improve workplace health and safety performance. The initiative build on the work already under way within the construction sector to promote cultural and practice change and acceptance of workplace health and safety as part of daily business management.
The Department of Labour will continue to work closely with the Statistics New Zealand Injury Information Manager to ensure that the injury information collected by all agencies is increasingly presented in ways that tell a more joined-up story of how New Zealand is progressing.
The Department will ensure access for interested stakeholders to better quality information on the state of health and safety in New Zealand. The Department will undertake activity performance monitoring through:
- Sector Action Plan actions being completed on schedule
- effective sector leadership groups
- better access to more reliable health and safety data.
The Department will undertake outcome monitoring by ensuring that all activity programmes include indicators and measures of success, using the broad framework of:
- immediate measures of response to activity
- intermediate measures of changed awareness and/or practice in workplaces
- intermediate measures to record improvements in injury statistics.
The Department will report annually on progress against high-level indicators for health and safety from June 2011 in an annual state of health and safety report.
This Sector Action Plan will be reviewed and updated in 2014.
4.6 Partners in Action
The Government cannot achieve the outcomes of this Sector Action Plan alone. Making a real difference to the work toll requires commitment from all parties.
A Pledge has been developed so that stakeholders willing to do their part to reduce New Zealand’s work toll can become Partners in Action with the Department of Labour, the lead agency of the Action Agenda.
It’s simple to sign-up – visit website to pledge your commitment. In return, you’ll be kept in the loop about workplace health and safety activities and you’ll be recognised on the Department’s website.
As an individual/organisation with a stake in achieving the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy’s vision of ‘healthy people in safe and productive workplaces’, I/we accept the challenge to become a Partner in Action with the Department of Labour to reduce New Zealand’s work toll.
As a Partner in Action, I/we agree to:
- play an active role within my/our sphere of influence to improve health and safety outcomes at work
- contribute to and support the Action Agenda, the Sector Action Plans and the Occupational Health Action Plan
- work towards achieving zero harm in New Zealand workplaces.
 Acc claims for work-related fatal injury sector, averaged 2002-08
 See section 3.2 “What injuries are occurring?”
 What works in delivering improved health and safety outcomes: A review of the existing evidence. Prepared by the Institute for Employment Studies for the Health and Safety Executive 2008; HSC Paper HSC/03/145 Research into the effectiveness of interventions: Effective occupational health interventions in agriculture. Summary Report. Kirsten Lovelock and Colin Cryer, on behalf of the Occupational Health in Agriculture Research Team, Report No. 5.