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How many Kiwis does it take to change a lightbulb? A call for rational health and safety regulations in NZ

Summarised by Centrist

Economist Dr Oliver Hartwich notes the absurdity of overregulation in New Zealand’s health and safety practices, exemplified by the excessive paperwork required for simple tasks like changing “a bloody light bulb.” 

Hartwich discusses how  the current system stifles productivity, innovation, and practical judgement, turning routine jobs into bureaucratic nightmares. 

He cites an anecdote of how an electrician changing one bulb in an apartment required about a dozen pages of paperwork and significantly increased costs. 

“(N)o one wants to see workers injured or killed on the job. But even the most well-meaning regulations can sometimes tie themselves in knots, creating a labyrinth of red tape that stifles productivity, innovation and practical judgement,” writes Hartwich. 

Hartwich welcomes the government’s regulatory review of workplace safety rules, initiated by Minister Brooke van Velden.  He says the review seeks to eliminate redundant regulations, balance safety with productivity, and empower businesses to focus on genuine risks. 

Critics fear it will compromise worker safety. “But this is a false dichotomy. The choice is not between a safe workplace and a productive one,” he writes. “Smart, streamlined regulation can achieve both.”

If successful, the review could significantly reduce compliance costs, foster innovation, and restore common sense to health and safety regulations.

Read more over at The NZ Initiative

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