More than 750 Bay of Plenty workers have been seriously injured on the job in the past three years.
Figures released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show at least one in four injuries were caused by falls, trips or slips.
The figures included accidents in the Western Bay, Rotorua, Whakatane, Kawerau, Opotiki and Taupo.
Health and safety regulations define serious harm as the permanent or temporary severe loss of bodily function.
People being hit by moving objects in the workplace was another common cause of serious injuries in the region.
Twenty workers were badly hurt after being "hit, struck or bitten" by another person at work and three more suffered serious injuries when "bitten or stung by an animal, insect or spider".
One suffered "rubbing and chafing" on the job and two others were badly hurt from "contact with electricity".
The Bay of Plenty organiser for the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, Raymond Wheeler, said too many injuries were going unreported.
"There's a fear mentality," he said.
"When they notify it [injury] ... employers started to use the health and safety aspect to discipline and dismiss people." Workers were being blamed for suffering injuries, he said.
"People are now shying away from [reporting accidents]."
Katikati-based Pearce Tool & Manufacturing was fined $60,000 last year and ordered to pay more than $11,000 in reparation after an employee lost a finger in a workplace accident. The finger was crushed while the worker was using a punch and forming press machine that wasn't guarded.
Nationwide, 16,468 serious-harm workplace accidents have been reported during the past three years.
At least 20 workers have died on the job this year. New Zealand's woeful workplace health and safety record has come under fire this week after the release of a damning inquiry report into the 2010 Pike River Mine explosion, which killed 29 West Coast workers.
It blamed the mining company and the Government for health and safety failings, prompting the resignation of Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson from her portfolio.
Shell Todd Service general manager Rob Jager, who is heading a task force to improve workplace safety, described current standards as extremely poor.
"Our fatality rate is more than six times as bad as UK and nearly twice as bad as Australia."
But EPMU health and safety coordinator Fritz Drissner said many workplace injuries probably flew under the radar.
There were disincentives in place which discouraged incident reporting, he said.
Employers often imposed drug and alcohol tests on staff when workplace accidents occurred.
"[Workers] get a lot of grief and a lot of hassle if they report an injury.
Costs tied to injury reporting also presented problems, Mr Drissner said.
"If they report an injury their employer's bill goes up next year for ACC, so their levy goes up.
"There's quite a lot of disincentives that employers put in place and it's mainly around saving money on ACC."
However, Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason said the vast majority of employers in the Western Bay took their health and safety obligations seriously and encouraged employees to report incidents.
"When a staff member reports something, [the employers] welcome that because they can do something about it in the future," he said.
"The vast majority of employers are very safety-conscious because they want to be seen as good employers. Word gets around if someone doesn't provide a safe workplace.
"People that take shortcuts are going to get caught out."
Page Macrae Engineering general manager Mike Lehan agreed, saying the company took a pro-active approach to workplace health and safety.
"We encourage employees to note any incident, even if it is minor so that it can mitigate further things happening down the line that are worse.
"We are very active in gathering that information from our employees. We certainly don't threaten our staff with disciplinary action regarding health and safety issues," Mr Lehan said.
"We're there to look after our employees."
Employers can face stiff penalties if workers are injured on the job.
A prosecution can result in a fine of up to $500,000 or a two-year prison term if an employer is found guilty of failing to ensure a safe work environment.
Fishing company Sealord was yesterday fined $63,400 and ordered to pay reparations of $12,500 to a fisherman who fell through a hatch and ruptured his spleen when he was working on the Ocean Dawn in October last year.
The largest penalty imposed during the past three years was on Kiwi Steel NZ - ordered to pay $237,500 in March last year after failing to report that two workers had the skin stripped from their fingers, one worker had part of a finger amputated and another broke his foot when a piece of steel fell on it. The Employers and Manufacturers Association could not be reached for comment.