VIC: caution urged to prevent workplace deaths

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Tuesday, 18 February, 2020 - 13:15
Industry news
National News

WorkSafe Victoria recently urged all workplaces across the State to put health and safety first following the tragic deaths of 24 workers in 2019.

The annual toll was one less than the previous year, when 25 workers died as a result of workplace incidents.

“These are not numbers, these are people – fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, siblings, colleagues, teammates and community members,” said WorkSafe Victoria chief executive Colin Radford.

“Out of respect for those we have lost and their families, it is time we said enough. It is time to take strong and decisive action.”

“There is simply no excuse for cutting corners when it comes to workplace safety.”

Radford said a failure to properly address major safety risks was a common reason for many of the horrific, but preventable incidents.

Nine of the fatalities involved some form of moving machinery or heavy vehicles, which were the most dangerous hazards in Victorian workplaces.

“The risks associated with moving machinery such as tractors, headers, trucks, mobile cranes and scissor lifts are well known so there is simply no excuse for ignoring them,” Radford said.

“All employers must take time to properly assess workplace health and safety risks and plan how to eliminate or manage them, because failing to do so can be fatal.”

There were six deaths on farms in 2019, making them once again the most dangerous workplaces in the state. Another five deaths occurred on constructions sites.

Two of the on-farm deaths involved children, aged two and three years old, who died in incidents involving machinery last year.

“Every year the same industries feature prominently in workplace deaths, which is not good enough,” Radford said.

“From July, new workplace manslaughter laws will come into force.

“So, employers are on notice to take their health and safety obligations seriously or risk jail if your negligence causes a workers death.”

Of the 2019 fatalities:

  • Fifteen occurred in regional Victoria, including six in Gippsland, and nine occurred in metropolitan Melbourne.
  • The eldest was a 73-year-old man who died after he was crushed between his vehicle and an automatic car wash.
  • The youngest was a two-year-old who died when he was crushed by a spreader attachment that fell on him inside a shed.
  • All but one of the victims were male.
  • Eight of the victims were workers aged 60 plus.