The death and injury toll on the job in New Zealand is twice that of Australia and almost six times that of the UK, a consultation paper from an independent taskforce shows.
Those numbers of people, revealed in the document issued on Sunday by the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety, would fill Eden Park almost four times every year.
"This is simply not good enough and needs to change," said taskforce chief and Shell Oil New Zealand chairman Rob Jager.
The taskforce was set up this year by Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson in response to the Pike River mining tragedy on the West Coast and will undertake the first strategic review of workplace safety systems in 20 years. The document signals the start of public consultation.
It says that as well as the emotional toll on families and communities, the economic and social cost is about $3.5 billion a year.
"Workplace injuries are not an isolated issue - they affect everyone and occur as a result of a combination of many things including changing workplace practices and environments, regulatory fitness and perhaps even our own culture," Mr Jager said.
Changing the poor track record would take the combined efforts of government, businesses, workers, unions and society as a whole.
Ms Wilkinson welcomed the start of public comment, saying people have a right to know that when they leave for work, they will be coming home safe and well.
The taskforce will make recommendations by April 30 next year on measures to achieve the government's goal of a 25 per cent reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2020.
"The government is already taking action across a range of fronts to ensure we get better results, including a boost to workplace health and safety funding by $37 million," Ms Wilkinson said.
Action included targeting the most dangerous sectors including construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing and the establishment of a High Hazards Unit.
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly also welcomed the review, saying current legislation and workplace culture were failing to protect workers.
Public submissions close on November 16.