Crackdown on workplace safety in VIC

16-11-2010

WorkSafe VIC has issued a warning to Victorian employers and workers to ensure high safety standards are in place following a recent spate of serious incidents.

The incidents included a serious electrical burn victim, a man who lost a finger and suffered serious damage to two others while operating a circular saw and a man who suffered major head and upper body injuries after being crushed by machinery at a South Gippsland meatworks.

“These incidents are a reminder to everyone responsible for a workplace to identify and eliminate safety risks,” says WorkSafe VIC’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth.

“Medical science is terrific at helping to put people back together again, but as the incidents this week confirm, the outcomes could have been a lot different.

“There's not much difference between the incident which kills and the one from which you walk away saying, "That was close!" 

“Telling your workers to ‘be careful’ isn’t going to cut it.

Nearly 29,000 people – more than 550 a week – were hurt badly enough last year to make a workers compensation claim.

“This shows that much more must be done by employers and workers to prevent safety incidents, says Mr Forsyth.  

November-December was among the highest-risk period of the year for health and safety.

“Whether it is harvest season, warehouses and shops are flat-out and in the construction industry the pressure is on to get jobs finished before the long break in December and January, says Mr Forsyth. 

“Whatever the situation, work has to be well-planned so safety is a priority.

“Now is the time to ensure safe systems are in place for all your workers – experienced or beginners, particularly as young workers are flooding into the market with school and university finishing for the year.

“Getting on top of training and supervision issues, ensuring shortcuts aren’t encouraged or taken, is essential, as is making sure people have right equipment to do their job safely.”

“Even before you get to the issue of potential claims and WorkSafe’s involvement, no one wants to be in a position of facing the parent or partner of someone who’s been hurt, or worse.” 

Nineteen work-related deaths have been reported to WorkSafe VIC this year compared with 25 at the same time last year.

There were seven work-related deaths in Victoria in November and December 2009.

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