Work injuries at 1 in 10
Some people parachute jump from great heights without a scratch – others go farming or fishing, often with painful and sometimes deadly results.
Sprains and strains are the standout cause of work-related injury claims to the Accident Compensation Corporation, at 44 per cent of the total, followed by cuts at 15 per cent.
And the most risky sectors to work in are fishing and farming, with claim rates at more than double the national average. And in those sectors it is almost always men with 79 per cent of claims.
The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector suffered 15 deaths last year leading to ACC claims, the highest of any sector.
A Federated Farmers spokesman said farming was an ‘‘extreme’’ occupation with people often out in bad weather dealing with livestock, when most people were safely inside.
Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs. More than 7 per cent of the 7000 workers are injured each year – nearly twice the percentage for the nearest sector (mining and quarrying).
Between 2001 and 2011, 33 fishermen were killed doing their job.
Earlier this year, the fishing industry brought in a new action plan to reduce injuries and deaths in the sector.
Overall, about one in 10 workers suffered an injury at work last year that led to an ACC claim, according to Statistics New Zealand.
But the overall level of claims has been steadily falling in the past decade. In 2002, there were 143 claims for every 1000 workers. In 2011 it was down to 97 for every 1000 fulltime equivalent workers.
A health and safety co-ordinator for the EPMU, Fritz Drissner, said the union welcomed any drop in accident rates, but some sectors such as manufacturing had been in decline with fewer jobs, which may explain some of the trend to lower claims.
A lot of employers also tried to prevent claims rather than injuries, by encouraging workers to say their accident happened at home.
‘‘Workers are encouraged not to report them as work injuries,’’ he said, and faced grief from the boss if they did.
Drissner said employers were trying to keep down their ACC levies, but taxpayers footed the bill.
He admitted the evidence was only anecdotal – nobody wanted to admit to lying to their doctor.
CLAIMS: Agriculture and fishery workers made the most claims last year.