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Director responds to WorkSafe's under-reporting of workplace deaths

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tony Sutorius, award-winning director of the documentary HELEN KELLY - TOGETHER, is dismayed that WorkSafe has finally admitted that for years it has under-reported workplace deaths in New Zealand-.

Sutorius' film, which is now on general release in cinemas throughout New Zealand, deals with Helen Kelly’s battles on behalf of the families of killed workers.

"Every New Zealander should be very troubled by this under-reporting of workplace deaths," says Sutorius. "What a kick in the guts for these families. As far as WorkSafe has been concerned, very literally these deaths simply haven’t counted."

WorkSafe has under-reported deaths by leaving out worker deaths that have occurred on roads, on boats, in aviation or related to policing. The organisation is now working with ACC to try to identify other gaps.

"WorkSafe have claimed that they recently saw the ‘clear picture for the first time’," says Sutorius. "I find that remarkable, when this issue has been widely known in the sector for years. I spoke about it in detail from the stage at Together’s premiere at the New Zealand International Film Festival in August last year. Where have they been?".

"I have some other facts that I hope Worksafe will now explain," he says.

"Why does only one in a hundred notifications made to WorkSafe lead to an investigation even being started? Why is the average New Zealander fifty percent more likely to be killed at work that the average Australian? What proportion of the time do they actually prosecute employers and directors who have a potential criminal responsibility for the deaths of their workers? And do they still see themselves as being "industry led" as they said to Helen Kelly in the film? What does that mean, exactly?"

HELEN KELLY - TOGETHER documents the late Helen Kelly's final year of activism and advocacy, including her work with the families of the Pike River mine victims, those of forestry workers killed on the job in the Bay of Plenty and more. The film is now screening in cinemas throughout New Zealand following its sell-out limited season at the 2019 New Zealand International Film Festival.

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