Govt says workplace safety looms large in its considerations and health workers are given PPE assurances

Oh, look.  David Clark is still Minister of Health and he is drawing our attention to his continued involvement in matters related to Covid-19.

He is displaying an admirable concern for health workers, too, many of whom would be among the exhausted group of people found to be under-resourced and over-stressed. 

Clark yesterday announced the government is prioritising its latest investment in personal protective equipment (or PPE) for frontline health workers, including staff at managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

A ministerial colleague, Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, had something to say about worker safety, too.

He has announced that protections for workers who are employees of one employer but are working under the direction of another business or organisation have come into force. This closes a gap in legislation that made the personal grievance process inaccessible for some workers.

Lees-Galloway insists:

“This Government is working hard to ensure vulnerable workers are protected. Workers who are employed by one business, but provide services for another who is effectively their boss (like labour hire, temping or secondments) now have better protections. This also levels the playing field for the majority of businesses who are treating their workers well. 

“Until now, employees in this situation could only take personal grievances against their direct employer. If those people experienced an issue at work, like discrimination or harassment, they have not been able to raise a personal grievance against the business they’re providing a service to, even though that business is effectively their boss.

 Primary activity includes:

  • engaging with stakeholders about the new law change,
  • creating awareness and educating audiences, and
  • development and rollout of training materials.

Clark’s statement on personal protective equipment relates to an issue aired early in April  when RNZ reported Covid-19: Health workers facing protective gear shortages call for urgency

At that time health workers were accusing some district health boards of failing to provide enough masks and protective equipment to prevent spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Later that month Clark announced $200 million to purchase personal protective equipment, along with $26 million to support residential aged care providers to keep Covid-19 at bay, a boost of $35 million to Pharmac’s budget for essential medicines and $15 million to continue the Unite Against COVID-19 public health campaign

He said then:

“Our frontline health staff do incredibly important work caring for New Zealanders. They need and deserve our support.”

Now he he is announcing more spending on PPE, although the first two paras of the statement curiously hint that only now is the government focusing on border security:

“With no community transmission of COVID-19 our response now has a firm focus on keeping our border safe and secure.

“We must ensure that anyone who is interacting with people entering the country from overseas, where the spread of COVID-19 is growing not slowing, has access to proper PPE.”

Then comes the news about protective equipment:

“Today I can confirm we have committed a further $150 million for PPE from the Covid Response and Recovery Fund. This builds on the earlier investment of $200 million in PPE announced in April.

“This latest funding will help protect health and other frontline workers and ensure that our strict isolation and quarantine procedures are maintained. 

“It will ensure health workers, who wear comprehensive PPE when they are in close contact with returnees as they do swabbing and health checks, continue to receive it. Face masks and gloves must also be available to other workers at the facilities – and returnees will also be required to wear face masks when they are in common or exercise areas.”

Staff will be trained in the proper use of this kit, too – but didn’t this happen previously?

“It is important that PPE is worn correctly, so frontline staff will be trained at managed isolation and quarantine facilities in its safe and effective use.”

There’s information of interest to overseas travellers and Kiwis keen to get safely home has been buried deeper down in the press statement:

“Today’s announcement also ensures anyone flying into the country on Air New Zealand will have access to face masks.”

And then there’s a bit of a boasting about the splendid job Clark apparently imagines he and his ministry have been doing:

“Over the past two weeks millions of items of PPE have arrived in New Zealand’s central PPE store.

“From there they have either been distributed to frontline workers or retained to ensure we have sufficient supplies in reserve.

“These items include masks, isolation gowns, disposable aprons, face shields, goggles, gloves and hand sanitisers and disinfectant wipes, which have been hard to obtain during the COVID-19 pandemic due to global shortages.

“With demand for PPE in New Zealand and internationally continuing to be high due to COVID-19 we had to move quickly to ensure people carrying out this vital work could do it safely.

He signs off with an assurance:

“This latest investment means the health workers and those working as part of our border response can be confident they will have access to the PPE they need to stay safe – and keep COVID-19 out of the community,” David Clark said.

And who will be responsible if the assurance is not matched by the performance?

Release

29 JUNE 2020

PPE supplies secured as COVID-19 response focuses on border

The Government is prioritising its latest investment in PPE for frontline health workers, including staff at managed isolation and quarantine facilities, Health Minister David Clark says.

Hon Dr David Clark

Health

Release

28 JUNE 2020

Protections for workers in triangular employment

Protections for workers who are employees of one employer but working under the direction of another business or organisation have come into force, closing a gap in legislation that made the personal grievance process inaccessible for some workers, says Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway

ImmigrationRe

One thought on “Govt says workplace safety looms large in its considerations and health workers are given PPE assurances

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.