November and December are the deadliest times of the year for workplace fatalities, so don’t drop your guard before Christmas.
That’s the message from WorkSafe VIC to employers and workers, which is striving for a fatality-free countdown to the end of the year.
The warning marks the first anniversary of a horror spate of fatalities in which seven people died in just 12 days at workplaces around Victoria.
The seven workers died between November 21 and December 2.
A further two deaths later in December meant nine workers died in just 24 days and took the overall workplace fatalities in 2011 to 25.
November and December are the most dangerous months for workplace fatalities.
In the past five years, 26 workers have died in November and December, an average of more than five deaths for this period each year.
Fourteen workers have died in workplaces so far this year, two less than at the same time last year.
WorkSafe executive director of health and safety, Ian Forsyth, said while Victoria was on track for a new record low rate of workplace injuries and fatalities, this is the most dangerous time of year.
“We’re concerned there may be a repeat of last year’s catastrophic end to the year where workplace fatalities occurred on an almost daily or weekly basis,” he said.
“Organisations rushing to finish jobs before their summer break and peak periods for the farming sector can mean that corners are cut and safety becomes less of a priority.
“It can be a lethal combination and it only takes a moment’s inattention for tragedy to strike. Fourteen deaths so far this year is 14 too many. Everyone should return home safe at the end of the day and when this doesn’t happen, it’s a tragedy for all involved – families, friends, workmates, employers and the wider community.”
Mr Forsyth said the majority of fatalities this year involved experienced workers carrying out routine tasks, which highlighted the fact that no worker was immune to the risk of a serious or fatal workplace incident.
While no workplace death is acceptable, Victoria is well within reach of a record low number of fatalities in a calendar year.
The current record low was 18 fatalities in 2005.
To drive home its pre-Christmas safety message, WorkSafe will launch a new public awareness campaign on December 9.