WorkSafe accused of failure as workplace deaths and injuries cost economy $4.4b per year

A new report has found workplace deaths and injuries are costing the economy $4.4 billion a year.

It comes as 73 workplace fatalities happen per year, on average, in New Zealand.

Critics claim WorkSafe, which is already under pressure to cut costs, is failing us.

Twenty-nine people died in the Pike River mine explosion, a tragedy that was meant to bring change in protecting our workers.

"They start with a hiss and a roar and then they drop the ball," Pike River campaigner Bernie Monk said.

"History will repeat itself, we'll get a major catastrophe."

A new 'state of a thriving nation' report shines a light on New Zealand's failure in workplace safety and its cost to life and the economy.

"I was really shocked to see we're hurting and killing so many people in a workplace," economist and report author Shamubeel Equab said.

Work-related harm in New Zealand costs $4.4b a year and an average of 73 lives.

"What really shocked me is our fatality rates, the number of deaths in the workplace hasn't really improved over the last few decades," Equab said.

"We are where the UK was in the 1980s… they have made enormous progress in the last few decades and we haven't."

And it's not just farming, construction and transport are displaying high death rates.

"We've had Pike River, Cave Creek, CTV building, White Island and it just continuously goes on and we're just so frustrated," Monk said.

"There's something more fundamental about New Zealand that we don't care deeply enough about health and safety, that we don't have enough leadership and that we're not doing enough to implement the rules and regulations that are already there," Equab said.

People said WorkSafe, the agency tasked with managing all of this, is failing us.

"We're still having huge death rates because WorkSafe only turn up to do something when something happens and they should be on the ground preventing them from happening," Monk said.

WorkSafe declined Newshub's request for an interview.