Dunne backing safety bill gives Govt numbers to pass

United Future leader Peter Dunne (Simon Wong / 3 News)
United Future leader Peter Dunne (Simon Wong / 3 News)

The Government will be able to get its workplace health and safety reforms through Parliament with Peter Dunne's support.

The United Future leader confirmed today he's satisfied with changes to the Bill that he negotiated with Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse.

That means the Government will have a majority for the Bill, regardless of how other parties vote.

Its committee stage is due to begin later today.

The legislation is the biggest shake-up in health and safety laws in 20 years, but it's been plagued with problems.

The Government weakened it after small businesses and farmers said it would saddle them with unnecessary costs and legal requirements.

That caused an outcry from the families of victims of workplace accidents, including relatives of the men killed in the Pike River mine disaster.

Mr Dunne says he negotiated significant changes which will be made during the Bill's committee stage.

His main concern was around the definition of high-risk industries.

Those industries aren't specified in the Bill and they will have to comply with stronger safety requirements than other industries.

High-risk industries will have safety representatives elected by workers, while other industries only have "engagement" with management.

Mr Woodhouse has released a proposed schedule of 57 high-risk industries, which will be confirmed by regulation after further consultation with them.

He says that under the proposed schedule, about three-quarters of all workers would be in industries which will have the ability to elect health and safety representatives.

Some forms of farming are covered including livestock farming and sharemilking.

Mr Dunne says he insisted that all industries defined as high risk would have elected representatives, regardless of the number of employees.