This is the transcript of a speech given to the Tauranga Rotary Club earlier this week by Michael Woodhouse, Minister in Charge of Workplace Safety.
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming.
You know, recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’ve been wondering how hard it can be for some people to be safe out there at work. Sadly some workers leave home in the morning never to return. It is this tragic scenario that has got this National government moving.
Recently I was talking to Brian Donald, an employee at a Motueka worm farm. He said to me, “Michael… it’s beyond a joke. Every say I turn up to work and every day I’m savaged by my employer’s killer worms. I’ve had several severe slimings and one time I even touched worm poo. If I hadn’t sterilised my hands I could have had dirty hands.”
Luckily we have never had, or are ever likely to have, any deaths, severe injuries or even minor abrasions on any New Zealand worm farm. Ever. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
I’m pleased to announce new legislation that will bring an end to such potentially deadly activities cat breeding. The health and safety of voters is incredibly important to people like me.
You know, people may mock me and say things like, “what the hell sort of danger is a butterfly farmer going to face?”
Well… I’ve seen The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher and if the safety of workers farming those animals is anywhere near as terrible as that film then God help us.
You know, I’m sure there are a lot of you sitting there in the audience applauding this move. It’s a wonderful thing to come down hard on all those people engaged in those high risk activities of forestry, oil rig diving or mini-golf operations.
What this means is workers in low-risk industries such as farming, or sitting on a couch doing shit-all, can rest easy in the fact that the general workplace environment will be much, much safer because the government had issued them a fluoro vest with H&S Officer written on it.
Thank you all for coming and thank you all for listening.
As a kind of post-script I thought it was important to point out dairy, sheep and beef farming were deemed Very Low Risk after the parliamentary Health and Safety Officer pointed out how unsafe it would be for the government to label these activities unsafe.