WorkSafe says no room for shortcuts or complacency

Tuesday, 01 December, 2009

An alarming spike in Victoria’s workplace death toll has prompted a WorkSafe call for employers and workers to do everything possible to make December fatality free.

Four people died in traumatic workplace incidents in November, preceded by five in October, while many other incidents have left people with life-threatening injuries.

WorkSafe's Executive Director, John Merritt, said 27 people died at work this year, the highest figure to the end of November since 2004. “With many industries now reaching their peak activity, the risks are extreme as people rush to get work completed and begin to think about what Christmas, holidays and the New Year has to offer.

“The construction and manufacturing sectors are aiming to complete projects before a summer shutdown, while transport, warehousing and retailing are ramping up to Christmas.

“With just a few weeks before Christmas and the spectre of nine deaths in two months behind us, employers and workers must lift their game and reject the urge to take shortcuts or become complacent.”

A recent WorkSafe survey of 1000 workers confirmed that thousands of workers were at daily risk of injury. The greatest identified workplace risks related to injuries related to daily manual handling (60%), being greatest in construction (74%), farm and forest workers and commercial fishermen (72%) and retail workers (69%).

Merritt said the figures confirmed the need for all industries to do more to reduce injury rates and protect the workforce and the business: “Some injuries take years to develop, so high standards must be in place at all times. It is often not possible to know what someone’s past experience or exposure to hazards has been.

“For too long, people have accepted that injuries are part of the job, or something that you have to expect. It is a false premise because the impact of easily prevented injuries costs the community billions in treatment and other business costs every year.”

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