​As a labour employer in New Zealand, you probably understand that, because your workers are in more physical jobs, there are bound to be more injuries.

"It comes with the territory," you might say; but, let's have a look at what the terrain actually looks like.

The 2013 Workplace Health & Safety Report from the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health & Safety found that, in 2010, 22 per cent of ACC claims related to manufacturing, 16 per cent to agriculture, forestry and fishing, and 16 per cent for construction. These were the largest claiming sectors by far, so we dug a little deeper and found out how much more likely these workers are to get injured compared to something a little less physical, say, a retail worker.

Using NZ.Stat, a powerful online database from Statistics New Zealand, to find employee data from the same year, we calculated that the manufacturing sector employed 22 per cent of New Zealanders, while agriculture, forestry and fishing and construction both constituted around 6 per cent of Kiwi workers each. After doing the math, we found that workers in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector are 2.82 times more likely than average to obtain an work-related injury, while construction workers are 2.65 times and those in manufacturing jobs are 1.84 times. On the other hand, a retail worker is less than half as likely than the average New Zealand worker to obtain an injury.


% of ACC claims

% of employees

Injury multiplier

Agriculture, forestry & fishing



2.82 times




1.84 times




2.65 times

Retail trade



0.48 times

Kiwi employers show strong commitment to WHS

For many of us, these statistics probably don't come as much of a surprise. In fact, you may have expected the landscape to be a little more dangerous. However, often we fall into the trap of thinking, "It won't happen to me." The fact remains, however, for many sectors the WHS incidents need to be more of a concern.

"There are some gaps between the commitment of our business leaders and the reality of health and safety practice on the ground."

Employers have stepped up their game since the new Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation has come into place. Overall, business leaders have been accepting of the change, suggested Deloitte Partner Rodger Murphy. In fact, Kiwi employers have largely proven their strong commitment and proactive approach to WHS, showed the Deloitte study, which asked business leaders from around the country, "Are we as safe as we want to be?"

"We have a new regulator, new legislation, and interest in workplace health and safety has increased considerably, particularly among chief executives and directors," said Mr Murphy. "However, there are some gaps between the commitment of our business leaders and the reality of health and safety practice on the ground."

Gaps linger in actual WHS standards

An overwhelming 75 per cent of respondents said that their top priority for improving the quality of health and safety in the workplace was to provide better care to their employees. However, whilst many boards do discuss their health and safety culture, incident statistics, systems, processes and even their WHS vision, their WHS improvement discussions did not as often cover worker participation or the provision of appropriate resources. These are possibly the most important aspects to actually achieving the goals they set.

"Despite very encouraging pockets of excellence, there is also a hint of complacency in the survey results, suggesting that some businesses might not actually be as safe as their leaders believe them to be," said Mr Murphy.

The report points out how leaders having an open dialogue with their labour workers is one of the most effective ways to identify health and safety weaknesses in any situation, making these findings somewhat problematic. Moreover, only 59 per cent of CEOs actually speak with workers on the ground level behaviour about WHS as part of their process.

A strong health and safety culture requires support from the top down.

Improving WHS commitment on the bottom line

Ultimately, enacting any WHS policy means fostering commitment from all workers at all levels. By employing labour staff that have the skills and knowledge to identify and act upon workplace hazards and incidents, and are aware of their and your own obligations under the new law, you can begin to build genuine commitment from the ground up. 

Whether you are filling a permanent role or looking for temporary staff, by working with Tradestaff, your staff will all have been through a rigorous health and safety induction prior to their placement. Our central belief is that everybody has the right to come to work expecting to return home uninjured. So we know that, as New Zealand's leading industrial recruitment agency, it is also our job to help the workers we provide and the employers we work with to achieve this vision.

Furthermore, as we are an ACC Accredited Employer, you can file an injury claims through us. This makes it easier and faster to get your workers back on the feet if they do fall down. So for any information on WHS or to start your recruitment journey with us, get in touch with your nearest Tradestaff branch today.