April 28 - World Day for Safety and Health at Work

By NZISM Secretary


Wednesday 28th April is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This year’s theme focuses on the investment into resilient occupational safety and health systems that help in anticipating, preparing and responding to crisis situations. Since it emerged as a global crisis in early 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced many aspects of the working environment from transmission risk to the OHS risks created by the measures we have implemented in workplaces to respond to the threat of the virus. In New Zealand COVID-19 has largely been dealt with as a public health issue.

As a result of COVID, the world of work has changed particularly with the increased reliance on a percentage of the workforce now working from home. While this may have reduced risk in certain areas it has increased in others such as psychosocial risk and violence.

Of course COVID-19 isn’t the only thing that has a global effect on worker wellbeing. Recently nearly 100 New Zealand businesses penned a letter to the New Zealand Government requesting an inquiry into the adoption of Modern Slavery Legislation into the New Zealand legislative framework.

We have seen recent prosecutions of poor working conditions in New Zealand but what is less visible to us is the conditions experienced by overseas workers which make up many supply chains in the New Zealand economy. It was pleasing to read recently the second annual report on social and environmental performance that Whitakers Chocolate ranked highest in the world (along with three other chocolate manufacturers) in the way it manages its supply chain, in what is an industry known to used forced labour.

Those of our businesses in New Zealand that operate in Australia are already familiar with the reporting requirements around Modern Slavery as Australia has had legislation in this area for a couple of years now. This legislation requires businesses with an annual turnover of A$100 million to publish a "modern slavery statement", report on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and on the actions, they have taken to address these. Brands such as Kathmandu and Fonterra recently shared their experiences of participating in this legislation on a webinar chaired by Rob Fyfe and coordinated by the Walk Free and the Minderoo Foundation in Australia.

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an opportunity to raise awareness about these types of issues that have a global effect and stimulate discussions about creating resilient systems to enable businesses to keep their workers safe in this volatile and complex world.

Ngā mihi

Greg Dearsly

INSHPO Vice President

International Labour Organisation

ILO World Day for Safety & Health at Work