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Workplace Injury Statistics Undermine Case For Privatisation

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"The latest figures on workplace injuries released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand demonstrate that there the injury rate in the work account is declining. There is no case for privatising the work account," said ACC Futures Coalition spokesperson Hazel Armstrong today.

The statistics for 2009 continue the trend of a declining incidence of workplace injury every year since 2002. In 2009, the provisional incidence rate was 112 work-related injury claims per 1,000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) compared with 143 in 2002. The picture for claims resulting in entitlement payments is also encouraging. Provisionally, in 2009, 13 percent (26,700) of claims resulted in entitlement payments with an incidence rate of 14 claims per 1,000 FTEs. Between 2002 and 2008, the incidence rate for entitlement payments remained between 18 and 19 claims per 1,000 FTEs.

"According to the government there is a need to privatize the work account of ACC because spending is out of control, " said Ms. Armstrong. "But these figures reinforce all the other information we have that the work account is performing well."

The work account covers workplace accidents affecting employees.

"We put this improvement down to the advent of worker involvement in health and safety, as well as ACC's work on injury prevention," said Ms. Armstrong.

In 2002 the Health and Safety in Employment Act was amended to provide for democratically elected health and safety representatives and health and safety committees. The ACC funds training of health and safety representatives in the workplace. Over 30,000 health and safety representatives have been trained. The ACC funding of training highlights the needs of workers in the high risk industries such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing and residential care.

"This is a classic example of how an integrated approach to health and safety can make a real difference to outcomes. Private insurers are unlikely to fund a nationwide, integrated across industry training of health and safety representatives."

"There are no grounds to privatize the work account of ACC and we call on the Government to come clean on their position," Ms Armstrong said. "Last year they made a commitment to privatize in order to gain the support of ACT for legislation that drastically reduced entitlements and coverage under ACC. Since then we have been waiting on the report of the Stocktake of ACC Accounts which was looking into the viability of privatizing the work account. This was due in June and we can only presume that the delay reflects the lack of evidence for privatisation. Meanwhile, as time goes by more evidence mounts against privatisation".

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