Govt 'taking time' with ACC privatisation

Work on the privatisation of ACC was progressing well but ACC Minister Judith Collins would only say yesterday that announcements would be made about employer choice in due course.

"We are taking time to make sure we get this right. We want to make sure the end result will benefit employers and employees alike."

In a speech to the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association, Mrs Collins said the Government's main goal was to lift the workplace accident compensation scheme to a new level of service delivery.

That meant fewer workplace injuries and a faster return to normal daily living for people who had been injured.

Improvements to the scheme would offer employers choice only where it made good sense to do so.

"Whatever improvements are made to the delivery of workplace compensation, ACC will remain an important and significant organisation," she said.

Separately, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson told the construction industry there was no excuse for failure to work safely at height.

She launched the best practice guidelines for working at height, at the new Wigram Skies housing subdivision in Christchurch.

The guidelines gave everyone in the industry clear, simple advice that would help bring down the casualty rate from avoidable falls in the construction industry.

Falls while working at height cost the country an estimated $24 million every year.

"When you add in the toll to families, colleagues and the community, the situation is simply unsustainable."

Department of Labour investigations showed more than half of all falls in construction while working at height were less than 3m. About 70% of those falls were from ladders and roofs.

Mrs Collins wanted an ACC system that focused on preventing injuries while meeting the highest standards of best practice and service, and achieving outcomes that were consistent with the spirit of ACC's pioneering objectives.

The Otago-Southland Employers Association welcomed the announcements by the two ministers and said anything that could be done to improve productivity was a right step to take.


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