Safety resolutions needed to make Victoria safe in 2010

Monday, 11 January, 2010

After 30 deaths in 2009, up from 21 in calendar 2008 and the highest figure since 2002 when 34 people died, WorkSafe’s acting Executive Director, Cath Duane, said workplace safety improvements had to begin in every workplace: “Two-thirds of 2009’s deaths were in agriculture (8), construction (6) and manufacturing (5) while others were in road transport, retail trade, services (3 each) and one each in tree felling and firefighting.

While agriculture and construction have made considerable improvement in reducing fatalities in recent years, they made up half the total number of deaths though representing just 15% of the workforce.

January, along with March and November, are the most dangerous months, with each recording 36 deaths over the past decade.

“Is it that workers are expected to do things without the right equipment and refresher training? Is it complacency, people taking shortcuts or not concentrating on what they should be doing after a holiday?” questioned Duane. “We don’t know. What is known is that simple steps, particularly in the first few weeks of 2010, will make a difference to individuals, families and businesses.

“What we’re asking workers to do is say: ‘I’m no longer going to do ’x’ which I know is dangerous.' We expect employers to not allow dangerous practices to continue.

“They may commit to always using fall protection when working at height; they’ll commit to consultation, guarding machines and better planning work so safety shortcuts aren’t taken. If they’re farmers we’re asking them to make sure tractors and quad bikes are used safely.

“It’s a New Year resolution for every board, company director, employer, supervisor and worker to make.

“The thousands of workers, employers, workmates and families touched by workplace deaths and the tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, affected by workplace injuries are testament to the community’s opportunity to do a lot better.

“If employers and workers make the effort to review existing work practices and see if they’re consistent with current standards and consult on safety issues, they will make Victoria safer.”

Small businesses can take advantage of a visit from a free and independent safety consultant by calling the advisory service or go to www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/smallbusiness, or contact major employer associations.

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