Regulator News

Victorian news

2018-2020 fatality statistics

WorkSafe Victoria recently updated its fatality statistics to the end of 2020. The new expanded definition of reportable deaths has been backdated to 2018. The total for 2018 is now recorded as 49 (previously 26). The additional 23 additions are in the previous excluded categories of transport deaths, fatal occupational illness/disease and suicide at work.

The total number of reported fatalities for 2019 and for 2020 is 71 and 67 respectively. 

The Excel document provides clear definitions for all the terms used, and also gives a breakdown of the fatalities for each year according to:

  • Month and Year
  • Age and Gender
  • Industry and Category
  • Local Government Area
Not surprisingly, the majority of workers killed were males. In terms of LGAs - tragically, over the reporting period, Ballarat had 10 fatalities. WorkSafe: Workplace fatalities.  

Asbestos Demolition Case study

In late June, WorkSafe held a webinar on Asbestos in Demolition. A case study used in the webinar has been developed into guidance. The case study: Asbestos removal in domestic demolition, highlights the importance of having proper controls in place when dealing with asbestos during demolition of domestic buildings. In May 2018 WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe) received a report of suspected asbestos being removed from a residential property. Such calls, often from neighbours, are not uncommon. WorkSafe Inspectors attended the property: two workers were doing demolition work using hand tools. They were not wearing any personal protective equipment (PPE). An independent hygienist confirmed the building contained asbestos.

OHS Essentials program

During Tradie Week, WorkSafe is reminding employers of the OHS Essentials program, which is a free workplace safety consultation service for small businesses with 60 employees or fewer, delivered by independent occupational health and safety (OHS) experts. The service is a great way to receive free, independent and personalised advice to manage safety at the workplace.  The program has run for many years and has successfully provided assistance to thousands of small businesses in the state. Read more.

Latest edition of Safety Soapbox

The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox (news for the construction and utilities industries) was posted today.  This month WorkSafe’s focus is on the new infringement notices recently introduced by the Victorian government, with links to a YouTube video of WorkSafe's webinar on this topic.  

Other information in this month's edition:

  • a feature on Tradie Week, reminding employers that their crews' physical and mental safety should be top of mind, and providing links to more information and assistance. 
  • an announcement that WorkSafe Inspectors are conducting visits to sites where concrete placing boom pumps are operating. The focus of these visits will be the inspection and maintenance regimes after an employee was fatally injured when a critical component of a concrete-placing boom failed, causing the boom to collapse and strike the employee. 
  • some recent prosecutions
  • news from interstate
  • As always, the Safety Soapbox has the list of incidents reported: In July the construction industry reported 186 incidents to WorkSafe. Of these, 72 per cent resulted in injury. 

Access the August 2021 edition of Safety Soapbox here  - the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from the page.

Reminder of the August 31 Webinar on mentally healthy workplaces

The second webinar in WorkSafe's WorkWell series, 'Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces Where Young People Thrive', will focus on the role of leaders in creating workplaces where young people can do their best work, so that everyone benefits. Industry leaders and mental health specialists will share what they have learnt.

Creating workplaces where young people can thrive and contribute is important because young workers are particularly vulnerable to injury at work. Employers and managers make a big difference to the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

The webinar will look at:

  • why preventative strategies are needed to improve mental health in the workplace
  • how to create psychologically safe environments where conversations can be started and continued
  • how leaders can make a difference for young people

When: Tuesday 31 Aug 2021 at 10:00am to 11:00am.
Where: Online webinar event. Register now by going to this page on the WorkSafe website.

National News

NSW: Teenager killed at Baiada poultry plant

On Monday this week a 19-year-old worker was killed at the Baiada poultry plant near Tamworth in north-west NSW. The media is reporting that the 'accident' involved a piece of machinery and that both the police and SafeWorkNSW was investigating. This was no 'accident' - there could be many contributing factors to such a tragedy, many of which would be under the control of the employer. This could include insufficient or lack of training and supervision; work pressures; fatigue; poor workplace conditions; and more. It is hoped that these will be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate action taken by the NSW regulator. 

This company does not have a good OHS record (in Victoria a contractor was horrifically killed in August 2010; and further serious incidents occurred as reported in this 2012 article in The Age: Behind the closed doors of poultry processing
Source: ABC news online

National Fatality Statistics  

Safe Work Australia had not updated its statistics on fatalities since August 5, at which time it had been notified that 67 Australian workers had been killed at work this year. The total numbers of fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 26 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 10 in Construction
  • 6 in Manufacturing 
  • 6 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 5 in Arts & recreation services
  • 3 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Mining
  • 2 in Other Services 
  • 2 in Public administration & safety
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Education & training
  • 1 in Retail trade 
  • 1 in Administrative & support services

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, consequently sometimes the numbers of deaths in each sector change. 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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