Get the message or take the consequences

Wednesday, 10 September, 2008

WorkSafe Victoria has issued a plea for employers and workers to take a more active approach to workplace safety.

Concerned about the high rate of serious injuries, fatalities and non-compliance with improvement and prohibition notices, WorkSafe’s executive director John Merritt said an active, imaginative and flexible approach to potential dangers is needed.

“Too many companies and individuals rely on personal expertise, experience and past good record to get through," he said.

“Being in denial of the dangers is a risky strategy, yet WorkSafe’s investigators and inspectors are frequently told ‘we’ve always done it this way and never had any problems’.

“What this really means is that you’ve been lucky. Acknowledging your responsibilities and acting on them means employees, yourself and the business have the highest practicable level of protection,” Merritt said.

He said that while Victoria’s health and safety law do not require employers to ensure accidents never happen, they do require them to take practicable steps to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

Merritt warned that WorkSafe’s recent prosecution of a company director and his construction business should send a clear message about obligations to ensure high safety standards were maintained.

Warrnambool company Barbro Investments and its director, Graeme Schultz, pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

The company was convicted and fined $25,000. Schultz was fined $5000.

WorkSafe told Warrnambool Magistrate Jonathan Klesdadt that despite extensive advice, guidance, warnings and 30 publications relevant to construction work, Mr Schultz allowed an unsafe working environment to be maintained.

Improvements were only made when a WorkSafe inspector identified a risk.


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