The just-announced $22 million ACC fund to support the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) sector in reducing workplace injuries should help. However, it will need careful monitoring and targeting to ensure it brings about the hoped-for benefits, says the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA).
The EMA’s CEO Kim Campbell says the creation of the fund acknowledges the sometimes significant costs SMEs could face to implement best practice accident and injury controls in the workplace.
“In some industries and sectors those costs are quite high and many SMEs struggle with finding the funding to invest in those controls,” says Mr Campbell. “So we welcome the fund as very helpful assistance for these businesses to keep their workers safe.”
ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has announced that $4.4 million per year would be made available through grants and subsidies over the next five years to help the SME sector reduce accidents and injuries in the workplace.
Mr Campbell says, “We applaud the availability of subsidies for undertaking workforce training – we run many health and safety training programmes at the EMA.
“But in addition, ACC might get good bang for its (the taxpayer’s) buck by a targeted approach focused on technology and innovation that will save future injury costs.”
“There have been other schemes in the past that targeted the sector and for various reasons they have been shut down.
“What we need to ensure is that the grants and subsidies are provided to industries and sectors where risks are higher, so that the reduction in accident costs that ACC believes will come about as a result of the scheme, do actually occur.
“That might mean targeting sectors such as construction, forestry, manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance where there are known risks or higher accident rates, and using the grants and subsidies to pay for innovative systems or new technology that might otherwise be inaccessible to those in the SME sector because of their tight access to funding,” Mr Campbell says.