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  • Writer's pictureTane Van Der Boon

Authoritative Report: Health, Safety and Wellbeing in New Zealand

Updated: Mar 2

10 Top Take-Aways for Industry

It’s an ambitious report – and quite confronting. It will and should resound widely across industry and government. This guideline and call to action with regard to Health and Safety, does not hold back… 

‘The State of a Thriving Nation: Health, Safety and Wellbeing in New Zealand’ is well-researched – using international data, literature reviews and interviews with local industry (Health and Safety Forum members). It outlines the true cost and value of health, safety and wellbeing in New Zealand.

‘The total cost of fatalities, serious injuries and health effects totalled $4,391m in 2022.’


This report is a ‘must read’ for management and HR. As a nation, we must reduce injury and fatality rates. And that requires all parties to collaborate. As the report states, we can and must do better as business leaders, government and the regulators to change this economic and social toll to our people and our country.

Innovative solution providers such as Inviol can also help. We are introducing advanced AI products into the market that reduce complacency and keep workers safe – for instance in high risk industries like transport, logistics and warehousing.

International Comparison

When it comes to fatalities, our New Zealand performance compares well with nations like Canada and the United States. But sadly it leaves a lot to be desired, compared to most European nations, and for instance Australia.

Our fatality rate – of some two fatalities per 100,000 workers – are at the level where the United Kingdom was in the 1980s (four times higher, than today).

Our fatality rate is twice that of Australia, who also have 20% lower serious injury rates. If we could improve our performance to match that of Australia, we would reduce costs nationally by nearly $1 billion per annum. Something worth striving for, and quite achievable.

‘The size of the prize is large in human, social and economic terms.’

Some Quick Industry Facts

  • Number of Workers with high use of protective gear: 459,500

  • Number of Workers responsible for the health and safety of others: 1,453,000

  • Worker injury rates (away from work for over one week) have halved over the past 20 years. Our performance rates in the better half of the pack in the OECD

  • Highest injury rates: Primary industry / Construction / Manufacturing

  • Highest fatality rates: Arts & recreation / Agriculture, forestry & fishing / Transport, postal & warehousing

  • An est. 900 people die from work-related causes every year

  • Some 5000-6000 hospitalisations and gradual process injury claims (e.g hearing loss) are related to work health risks

10 Key Points

The Health and Safety Forum outlines a way forward, for our new government.

  1. New Zealand thrives when our businesses and our workers thrive. Thriving businesses understand that healthy and safe workers are the core foundations of a productive business – not a cost.

  2. Lost lives, lost earnings, serious injury and health costs from workplace harm are a significant social and economic toll on New Zealand and our people.

  3. There are pockets of progress, but our collective health and safety performance as a country remains sluggish, uncoordinated, and under-discussed, despite significant investment by government and businesses alike.

  4. The Health and Safety at Work Strategy 2018-28, has developed a clear agenda. But a system-wide action plan with clear accountability is needed to make progress. Not doing so will continue to come at massive and avoidable social and economic cost. The new government should prioritise the importance of a “level playing field” through clear regulatory expectations on businesses and effective follow through and accountability.

  5. The new government should focus on translating the strategy into a much-needed and overdue action plan (originally due in 2019). This should also include recommendations from the SageBush report about WorkSafe NZ’s approach, that are not yet fully actioned.

  6. Economic growth is expected to be moderate, but Forum Members expect it to continue to grow, defying pessimism in many current business surveys. Both economic growth and slowdowns have specific effects on Health and Safety performance (listed in the Report).

  7. Businesses are more optimistic about the outlook for their own businesses and their suppliers, implying they expect to take market share in a weakening economy. They also expect profitability to improve next year, after a challenging year just gone.

  8. Businesses expect to continue making significant investments in capital, technology and training, even more than in the last 12 months. This is consistent with an expected increase in sales volumes and profitability in their own businesses.

  9. To facilitate business growth, businesses also expect to increase staffing, including health and safety personnel. Recruitment remains difficult, although is expected to ease in 2024, likely related to a slowing economy, and opening of borders to migrant workers.

  10. Businesses see Interaction between management and staff, and Budget for organisational culture, recreation & wellbeing increasing – with no correlation to the economic cycle. This shows that businesses regard these critical health and safety line items as important foundations to get right in a business, rather than as nice to haves.

Recommended Reading

‘The State of a Thriving Nation: Health, Safety and Wellbeing in New Zealand’ is well written and researched, concise and practical. Its graphics are illuminating and fascinating. Even a quick 15-minute read of the highlights will leave you impressed, and motivated to improve our nation’s injury and fatality ratings.

We can do it. We must do it. It will take time, just like in the UK where it took four decades to minimise fatality rates. But with dedicated, well-coordinated and joint efforts and policies on multiple fronts? We can get our nation thriving, with improved health, safety and wellbeing. And we will keep our workers safer than they are today.

Inviol can help with Truck and Warehouse solutions. Other solution providers have other industry solutions. Make a start and check it out? Our New Zealand Herald article.

State of a Thriving Nation - Inaugural report - August 2023:

Published by: Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum -

Authors: Sense Partners - 


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