This book, written by Hazel Armstrong, New Zealand’s foremost legal expert on workplace health and safety, concludes that the appalling rate of death and injury on New Zealand’s railways in the 1990s is ‘the story of de-regulation and privatisation’.
In the early 1990s New Zealand Rail (NZR) was secretly exempted from new workplace health and safety legislation which ‘obliged employers to take all practicable steps to prevent harm to their employees’. The consequences for rail workers were appalling. Soon afterwards, New Zealand Rail was sold to a consortium of private owners which renamed it Tranz Rail, cut staff numbers and reduced spending on equipment and maintenance. Eleven of its employees were killed on the job between 1995 and 2000 a safety tragedy that only came to an end when the RMTU, the rail workers’ was successful in calling for an enquiry.
Hazel Armstrong points out that both the 2000 Tranz Rail inquiry and the 2012 Pike River inquiry illustrate what happens when regulators are ineffective and are captured by the employer; Parliament and the government of the day are prepared to compromise worker health and safety for some other end-game; and directors and managers turn a blind eye to hazards.
Copies of Your life for the job can be purchased from Hazel Armstrong Law for $20. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to order a copy.