Victoria’s workplace death toll highest since 2001

Tuesday, 15 December, 2009

WorkSafe Victoria has recorded the state’s 30th work-related death for the year after a contractor died while slashing grass near Warragul. The man was run over by the tractor and attached slasher, which has been impounded and is undergoing mechanical checks. Neither the tractor nor slasher was running at the time.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director, John Merritt, said the incident was the 12th traumatic work-related fatality since the start of October: “At this time of the year, there is an extraordinary amount of work going on in all industries. Many are winding down while others like retail, transport, hospitality and farming are reaching their peaks.

“The fact that we’ve had so many deaths, four in the past two weeks, is a sign that more must be done in every workplace to eliminate safety risks.

“Although Victoria is Australia’s safest state, with a record low number of work-related injuries, the current bottleneck of activity can lead to people taking shortcuts and being put at risk.

“The single factor that connects almost all of this year’s fatalities is that the causes of them could have been identified before disaster struck. Preventing simple safety failings, and ensuring people are properly trained, have the right equipment and are not in a position where shortcut-taking is happening or encouraged irrespective of someone’s skill and experience makes a difference.

“Doing that before a serious safety incident reduces the chances of people being hurt and businesses being undermined, and mean everyone will get to enjoy the holiday season ahead of us.

“Greater than the tragedy of the deaths, serious injuries and incidents this year will be that others will not learn from them allowing similar incidents to happen again.

“Every year, the November to February period has the most fatalities. Since 2000, 107 people have died at work in this period from a total of 276.”

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