October 25, 2019

Putting a Superdiversity Framework on health and safety and injury prevention

The Superdiversity Institute for Law, Policy and Business has applied a Superdiversity Framework to health and safety and injury prevention in New Zealand in their latest research report, National Culture and its Impact on Workplace Health and Safety and Injury Prevention for Employers and Workers, launched today in Wellington.

“The 2018 Census data shows that superdiversity in New Zealand is deepening. The statistics shows that the biggest increase in ethnic group is the Asian population; 27.4 per cent of people were not born in New Zealand; and over 100,000 do not speak English, Māori or New Zealand sign language. These are just some of the statistics, but it shows that it is more important than ever to understand how to protect the health and safety of, and avoid injury to, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) workers who are making up a larger proportion of New Zealand’s workforce”, said Mai Chen, Chair of the Superdiversity Institute.

The National Culture report asked whether the national culture of workers impact health and safety and injury prevention, and if so, how. It also asked what mechanisms other superdiverse countries use to ensure the heath and safety of CALD workers, and which ones were most effective.

ACC claims data shows that there are significantly elevated incidence rates of work-related claims for injury and illness among Maori, Pasifika, and people identifying as Middle Eastern, Latin American or African (MELAA), as compared to European people. Asians experience barriers to accessing ACC services which may explain the low claim rate among Asians rather than a lower incidence of injury.

The National Culture report found that there are several vulnerability factors which are common to CALD workers across the eight jurisdictions surveyed (Canada, United States of American, United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, Kuwait and Malaysia) including:

  • language barriers;
  • lack of awareness of health and safety (risk perception issues);
  • cultural attitudes and behaviours that result in unsafe practices;
  • cultural attitudes and behaviours preventing active engagement, participation and representation; and
  • increased susceptibility to mental health issues owing to the stresses of discrimination, and for migrants, of settlement.

The Superdiversity Framework applied to health and safety and injury prevention highlights a range of tools, tactics and strategies used overseas that employers can use to improve workplace health and safety for culturally diverse workers, including training and orientation for CALD workers, including on workers’ rights, using peers/family to deliver injury prevention information, ensuring proper data collection and coordination across the system.

Ms Chen said “New Zealand can be a world leader in ensuring the health and safety of diverse workers, and the application of the Superdiversity Framework to health and safety and injury prevention takes us one step closer to improving the lives of every New Zealanders.”

The Superdiversity Institute’s report was developed with the support of Accident Compensation Corporation.


Editor’s notes:

Photos courtesy of Tyrone Laurenson (interviewed for the report), Darren Powell, and chinaSMACK

The report is available at https://www.superdiversity.org/research-reports/reports/