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Safety first – especially in tough times

WorkSafe Victoria has warned employers and workers to ensure safety standards are maintained in tough economic times or face a return to dozens of preventable workplace deaths each year.

Addressing the Safety in Action conference in Melbourne earlier this year, WorkSafe’s
executive director, John Merritt said the shift in attitudes to workplace health and safety over the past decade could be threatened in the quest to cut costs.

“WorkSafe will be quite hard and ensuring that workplaces are adapting to the changing
environment that we find ourselves in, he said.

“Our work is to ensure those economic forces are balanced by the regulatory force of our
organisation. We have a long way to go and we intend to get on with it and do it properly.”

While WorkSafe would continue to provide considerable support to small and medium sized business via free safety audits by independent consultants, Mr Merritt said high risk industries and those making claims beyond industry norms would be targeted.

“We’re going to work much more closely and smarter with these organisations. We’ll be
benchmarking them against their competitors and trying to get that interface between senior management, their workforce and safety systems working.”

Death and injury rates have dropped progressively in Victoria and other states for many years.

In Victoria, fatalities dropped from a high of 45 in 1998-99 to a low of 16 in 2007-08.

Last financial year 16 people died. And since the start of July 2008 there have been 20
traumatic Victorian workplace fatalities and nine since January 1.

Mr Merritt said employers had to take all practicable steps to ensure the health and
safety of workers, and themselves, was maintained.

WorkSafe Victoria
Ph: 1800 136 089