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WorkSafe Victoria calls on all Victorians to prioritise workplace health and safety

The call to prioritise health and safety following the tragic deaths of 65 workers in 2020. The toll was five fewer than the previous year when 70 people died from work related injuries or disease.

WorkSafe chief executive Colin Radford said every death was a tragedy for families, workplaces and communities grappling with the loss of a loved one. “These are not numbers or statistics. They are loved members of our families and communities. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, siblings, colleagues and team mates, who died as a result of a workplace incident that should have been avoided,” Mr Radford said.  “There is no excuse for taking shortcuts and failing to make health and safety your number one priority. Victorian employers and workers – all of us – can and must do more to reduce the number of workplace deaths.”

The 2020 toll includes 29 workers who died in a Victorian workplace incident and 20 workers who died in work-related road incidents. A further 13 workers died from the effects of disease contracted as a result of their work, one worker died following a workplace-related medical incident and one worker died from a workplace-related suicide.

As of July 1, the criteria for defining a workplace fatality was broadened to include deaths from work-related transport incidents, disease, criminal acts, and medical or suicide incidents, to ensure every workplace death is recognised and acknowledged and every family gets the support they deserve.

Mr Radford said 20 work-related road deaths was a sobering reminder that employers have a duty to protect all their workers, no matter where they are employed. 

There were 12 deaths in the public administration and safety industry in 2020, which was the most dangerous industry in the state. This includes the deaths of four police officers killed on the Eastern Freeway in April and five emergency services personnel who died from the effects of diseases contracted at work. 
Read more: WorkSafe media release 

March edition of Safety Soapbox

The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was posted today.  In this month's editorial WorkSafe’s Stuart Duncanson discusses the safe use of synthetic (soft) lifting slings and WorkSafe's recently revised alert on the subject, which he helped develop. Stuart is an appointed Inspector and Senior Cranes Engineering Specialist in WorkSafe's Major Construction Projects team. His background includes working as a heavy-lift crane specialist in the heavy construction sector nationally.

The 'Absolute shocker' shows a worker on a scaffold standing on a bucket in order to reach where he needs to be working! The scaffold has no fall protection. Whoever organised the scaffold is in breach of his duties - and further there appears to be no supervision of the worker. 

As always, the Safety Soapbox has the list of incidents reported to WorkSafe: In Feburary the construction industry reported 179 incidents to WorkSafe. Of these, 75 per cent resulted in injury. There we no fatalities, but nine per cent of the injuries were serious. Access the March 2021 edition of Safety Soapbox here  - the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from the March Safety Soapbox.

National News 

Summary of Workers' Compensation Report now published

Safe Work Australia has published a snapshot of workers’ compensation scheme developments. This is the first edition of the Summary of Workers’ Compensation Scheme Developments in Australia and New Zealand - September 2018 to September 2020 – 1st Edition (Summary Report)

The biennial report summarises significant changes in administration and scheme delivery and policy and legislative amendments of workers’ compensation schemes in Australia and New Zealand from September 2018 to September 2020. It includes legislative developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of presumptive legislation and provisional liability for first responders and firefighters.

A more comprehensive comparison of workers’ compensation scheme arrangements and the differences between schemes in Australia and New Zealand will be published in alternate years, with the next publication date being in 2022.

National Fatality Statistics 

Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics on fatalities since March 4, at which time 18 Australian workers had been killed at work in 2021.  The deaths this year have been in the following sectors:

  • 9 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 2 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 2 in Construction
  • 2 in Manufacturing 
  • 1 in Arts & recreation services
  • 1 in Other Services 
  • 1 in Wholesale trade

These figures are based mainly on initial media reports and provide a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working. Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident. Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards. Note that the figures are based on preliminary reports, and so at times will change. To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.

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