Source: Worksafe New Zealand – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Hundreds of rebuild workers to get free work health checks

Around four hundred Canterbury construction workers will receive free health advice and checks over the next fortnight to help raise awareness about the health risks they face on site.

“While we’re pleased to see a number of construction companies continuing to improve their safety initiatives and plans, the ‘health’ in health and safety is often missing,” says WorkSafe New Zealand’s Canterbury Rebuild Health and Safety Programme Director Kathryn Heiler.

“Construction workers are exposed to a number of health hazards through the course of their work. This includes dust, noise, asbestos, and exposure to hazardous substances or chemicals,” says Ms Heiler.

Every year in New Zealand approximately 75 people die at work. Yet 600-900 people die every year from work-related diseases.

WorkSafe, with support from ACC, has organised an occupational health van to tour rebuild sites for two weeks from 9 March.

“There’ll be two very experienced occupational health nurses from TriEx on board, and over the fortnight they’ll be visiting 30 sites around Canterbury, talking to 400 workers,” says Ms Heiler.

“Workers can expect to receive more information on the health risks they face as well as having a health check – representative to health monitoring many employers carry out for their employees.”

There will also be sessions on how to make sure their personal protective equipment, such as face masks and ear plugs are fitted correctly.

“If it doesn’t fit properly it’s unlikely to provide much protection against the health hazard and there’s no point wearing it. It’s important employers and workers understand how to check if their gear is working and fitted correctly,” she says.

“Too many people become ill or die each year because of exposure to a health risk through their work. This is just one initiative that aims to raise awareness about the importance of health, not just safety,” Ms Heiler says.

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.