ACC plans incentives for safer workplaces

The Government plans to introduce a range of incentives to help business owners focus on improved safety management and make workplaces safer.

ACC Minister Judith Collins says new motor vehicle account levy classes for goods and service vehicles would better reflect the risks posed by heavier trucks that would be now levied by weight as well as fuel type.

''It's important that we recognise some forms of transport pose higher safety risks and should attract a levy rate that reflects that risk.''

The Workplace Safety Discount scheme of 10% reduction in levies would also be extended to all industries.

To qualify for the discount, companies would have to demonstrate adequate experience in health and safety systems and complete a self-assessment-based audit, she said.

Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive John Scandrett said the association had long been active in the area of health and safety improvement.

''We not only welcome this levy reduction in the Workplace Safety Discount scheme but we are also supportive of its new wider application to all industry groups.

''Overall, the changes announced will, we think, drive a sharper business focus on truck operator best practice and will also serve to promote new thinking on general in-company health and safety awareness,'' he said.

Ms Collins said owners of light goods and services vehicles (GSVs) had been subsidising owners of heavy GSVs by $12 million per year. The new levy rates for GSVs would be based on a weight of more or less than 3.5 tonnes. That would mean a small increase in levy rates for the about 111,000 heavy trucks on the roads and a reduction in levies for the 341,000 light vehicles.

''This is a much fairer and more accurate way to set the levies.''

Truck owners with good safety management standards would be able to reduce their levies by meeting audited standards for fleet management systems and performance, Ms Collins said.

The minister also announced that ACC levies would remain unchanged for the 2013-14 financial year.

Levies were reduced in 2012-13 by $630 million, with a 22% reduction in the work account and a 17% reduction in the earners account. Average work account levies were now at a historic low.

There was scope for further levy reductions in the medium term but the Government needed to have the confidence that reductions were stable and sustainable. That had not always been the case, Ms Collins said.

Mr Scandrett believed there was already scope for a reduction.

''While we recognise the need to viably anchor ACC's forward operational base, and to also have the organisation thinking about smarter and more sustainable systems overall, businesses have been lobbying for what they feel are justified downward levy adjustments. Many operators will be disappointed the status quo prevails.''

As an example, there were some association members who had adopted the view the work account levy could, and would, be reasonably lowered from the $1.15 rate in the context to $1 per $100 of liable earnings, Mr Scandrett said.

At a glance
• ACC levy rates unchanged for the next financial year.
• Work account: $1.15 per $100 liable earnings.
• Earners account: $1.70 per $100 liable earnings.
• Motor vehicle account: $334.52 average levy per vehicle.
• Incentives to improve workplace safety management.


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