Regulator urges employers to make safety a priority in 2023
WorkSafe Victoria has urged employers and workers across the state to consider the cost of unsafe workplaces, following the loss of 61 lives in 2022 due to workplace harm. The 2022 workplace fatality toll includes 24 people who died following a traumatic workplace incident and 17 who lost their life as a result of a work-related road collision.
A further 14 people succumbed last year to a disease contracted during employment; there were four deaths following work-related medical incidents or medical complications from workplace incidents; and two workers died from work-related suicides. In addition, more than 24,000 people were injured seriously enough to have a claim for workers compensation accepted in 2022.
Of the workplace fatalities in 2022, there were 35 deaths recorded in metropolitan Melbourne, including 10 in the southern metro area, while 26 fatalities occurred in regional Victoria. Transport, postal and warehousing was the deadliest industry with 14 fatalities, followed by agriculture, construction and manufacturing, which recorded eight fatalities each.
Incidents involving on- or off-road vehicles were the top cause of death, accounting for 23 fatalities; long-term contact with chemicals and substances led to 11 deaths; and falls from height were responsible for nine fatalities. Truck driver was the most dangerous occupation with 11 work-related deaths. Males made up more than 90% of those who lost their lives, while almost two-thirds were aged 55 or older at the time of their death.
WorkSafe Chief Executive Officer Colin Radford urged Victorians to think about safety in their own workplaces while reflecting on the lasting impact of deaths and serious injuries. “Both employers and workers should understand that there is no such thing as unavoidable workplace harm. Every single work-related death and injury in 2022 could have been prevented, along with the pain and suffering endured by the families, friends and colleagues of those impacted,” Radford said.
Radford added that WorkSafe will continue to target high-risk industries and sectors to ensure the right measures are in place to control their specific health and safety risks. “It’s incredibly frustrating that we are still seeing the same type of incidents happen in workplaces where the hazards and controls should be well known. WorkSafe has a range of enforcement tools at its disposal for duty holders who fail to provide a safe and healthy workplace, including possible court action with significant potential penalties,” Radford said.
WorkSafe Victoria successfully prosecuted 123 companies and directors for breaching workplace health and safety laws last year, resulting in court-imposed fines totalling $5.59 million. Last year’s deaths were down from the 2021 workplace fatality toll.
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