Safety first in regional Victoria as construction booms
WorkSafe Victoria has reminded employers and tradespeople across regional Victoria to prioritise safety, as construction activity increases across the state. WorkSafe accepted 772 claims from construction workers in the regions in 2021, an increase on the 715 claims in 2020 and 654 in 2019. Three construction workers also lost their lives due to workplace incidents in regional Victoria in 2021. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a 52% increase in building approvals in rural and regional Victoria in the last financial year to 18,072 in 2020/2021. Demand has continued to increase this financial year, with 9882 building approvals in regional Victoria from 1 July 2021 to 28 February 2022.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was important that employers and workers maintained a strong focus on safety, even as the sector faced increasing demands and challenges. “Every worker has the right to get home safe at the end of the day, and yet each year, hundreds of construction workers across rural and regional Victoria are injured at work. We know that the industry continues to face pressure on supply and building material costs, as well as a shortage of qualified trades to keep up with high demand, but it’s imperative that safety remains a priority for employers and workers,” Dr Beer said.
Falls from heights, contact with electricity, being hit by powered plant, structural collapses and trenching incidents are among the most common serious injury and fatality incidents in construction. Body stress (35.9%), falls, trips and slips (28.8%) and being hit by a moving object (22.8%) were the leading causes of injuries among regional construction workers in 2021. Young workers were particularly vulnerable, with 35.7% of accepted claims in regional construction coming from workers aged under 30. Dr Beer said that young workers are particularly vulnerable, as they have less experience and can be reluctant to speak up if someone feels unsafe.
“It’s really important that apprentices receive appropriate training and supervision. WorkSafe inspectors will continue to work with employers and construction workers across regional Victoria to help duty holders understand their obligations and encourage workers to put safety first,” Dr Beer said.
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