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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Time to raise standards?

Time to raise standards?
Article Type:
News
Publication Date:
2013-09-20
Jurisdiction:
New Zealand

New Zealand's failure to develop and enforce robust standards is creating huge problems, costing a lot of money and putting people at serious risk, according to the chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, Kim Campbell.

Campbell, who is calling for a new funding regime to reinvigorate Standards NZ, points to the safety failures at Pike River as just one example of a standards system that has, he says, undergone critical decline in the last 20 years.

"In the past our standards programme was well funded and we were famous for having strong standards," he says. "In the last 20 years or so the government has cut the funding and now a lot of our standards are out of date and unenforced."

"It's not an accident that we have had these problems with honey, and milk, and Pike River. All these things are really failures of having good standards, and enforcing them."

If there had been strong standards for the mining industry the problems that culminated in the Pike River explosion would not have been able to occur, he says. "Instead the standard had fallen to a very low level and what eventually happened was a symptom of a standard that just wasn't being adhered to. It's just appalling that standards have been let go to the point where nobody knows what the correct ones are."

The EMA is advocating for a revamped and more active Standards office backed by a regulator to enforce compliance. Campbell points to the pharmaceutical industry as example of what can be done.

"They don't have problems because people figured out a long time ago that if you don't do this right you kill people, so they have a strong, enforceable and enforced code."

He is concerned that current government proposals to make Standards NZ part of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment may further erode the standards system, and calls for a new funding regime to reinvigorate the programme.

"The government is trying to make it like the Consumers Institute, which is self-funding from selling publications and things, but it really doesn't work. What we're advocating is that the levies that are already collected from industries like gas, electricity and building should be hypothecated for standards development. If they did that there would be plenty of money."

"We say that this goes to the core of us having a high quality Western economy when at the moment we're seeing the symptoms of a third world economy just by not having strong standards that are well enforced."

People Mentioned:
Kim Campbell
Organisations Mentioned:
EMA; Standards NZ; Consumers Institute; MBIE
Website:
Reference No:
130920CA-8415

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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