Health and Safety factors urged as licensing condition for builders

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Inclusion of quality health and safety systems as a qualification for the licensing of Building Practitioners under the Building Act would contribute significantly to achieving the goals of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) H & S strategy. 

This view was expressed by Site Safe chief executive Iris Clanachan following preparation of the strategy. She says such a step, along with encouragement for all construction workers to have relevant health and safety qualifications, will help cut down the fatality and injury record of the industry. “We believe a further catalyst for improved H & S performance would be insistence by main contractors that subcontractors have an evaluated H & S system,” Ms Clanachan says. 

“ACC incentives for small and medium sized businesses to have approved systems will also be emphasised.” Key elements Ms Clanachan says key elements of the H & S strategy include employee participation in the development and implementation of workplace health and safety strategies and practices, as well as recognition of high risk situations and the development of measures to mitigate the risk. 

“Other essential points identified in the strategy are industrywide promotion of independently verified health and safety systems, and consideration of whole-of-life health and safety requirements as part of the design process.” 

She says sector members of the CIC will aim to report regularly on implementation of the strategy and to measure progress. Latest ACC figures analysed by Statistics New Zealand disclosed that in 2004 there were approximately 30 injuries per 1000 workers in the construction industry that led to ACC claims. 

Average new injury entitlement payments averaged approximately $5000 — down from $7500 in 2001. But neither of these figures takes into account costs to employers that include replacement labour hiring, work interruption, repairs to plant and equipment and training of new personnel — which range from three to five times the ACC cost.