VIC: regulator issues warning over workplace fatality toll

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 18 February, 2022 - 12:45
Industry news

WorkSafe Victoria recently warned employers and workers to consider the lasting impact of workplace trauma after the loss of 66 lives in 2021.

This toll includes 43 people who died from workplace incidents and 14 people who succumbed to a disease contracted in the course of employment.

Another five people lost their lives last year as a result of a work-related transport accident; there were three deaths following work-related medical incidents and one worker lost their life due to an alleged criminal act.

Of the 2021 workplace fatalities, 40 deaths were recorded in metropolitan Melbourne while 26 occurred in Victoria’s five regional areas, including nine in the Barwon South West region.

Manufacturing was the deadliest industry with 14 fatalities followed by construction with 13 deaths and agriculture, forestry and fishing which had nine fatalities.

Long-term contact with chemicals or substances was the top cause of death accounting for 12 fatalities, including five related to asbestos and four related to crystalline silica; falls from height led to nine deaths; and falling objects were responsible for eight fatalities.

In addition, more than 23,000 workers were injured seriously enough to have a claim for compensation accepted last year.

WorkSafe Victoria CEO Colin Radford said no one in the community was immune to the devastating consequences of a death or injury at work.

“Hundreds of Victorians have just spent their first festive season without a loved one by their side because of a workplace death,” Radford said.

“Many others are themselves dealing with the pain and suffering from serious and often life-changing injuries suffered at work.”

“We need every workplace to take the time to properly assess their health and safety risks and plan how to eliminate or manage them because failing to do so can lead to tragedy.”

The 2021 workplace fatality toll was down from 73 the previous year and Radford said high-risk sectors, including manufacturing, construction and agriculture, would continue to be targeted by WorkSafe inspectors, who made more than 39,000 visits to workplaces across the state in 2021.

“It’s simply unacceptable that we are seeing the same industries feature prominently in workplace deaths and serious injuries year after year,” he said.