The Victorian Government has urged employers to make workplace safety a priority this year, after 23 people didn’t make it home from work in 2018.
The number of workplace deaths has decreased in the past 12 months, however, seven of the 2018 deaths involved workers aged 25 and under.
Sadly four workplace deaths have already occurred in 2019 (including one recently involving a teenager) thus Victorian workplaces are being reminded to take care of their employees – particularly those who lack experience – and to provide consistent and appropriate training and supervision.
The Government has commenced work on workplace manslaughter laws and the establishment of an implementation taskforce.
As part of the implementation taskforce, the Government is establishing a Workplace Fatalities and Serious Incidents Reference Group to ensure that the families of those who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents can contribute to the reforms.
Construction sites were the state’s most deadly workplaces last year, with nine workers killed. Although the circumstances of each fatality vary, a failure to identify and manage hazards remained a common theme throughout these tragedies.
Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, said the lives of 23 families were forever changed by workplace deaths in 2018.
“While individuals have a role to play in keeping themselves and others safe at work, occupational health and safety laws are very clear that the safety of staff is the responsibility of every Victorian employer,” she said.
“We’re working with unions, business and the community to implement critical reforms as soon as possible, to save lives and keep Victorian workers safe.”
Master Builders Victoria also agreed with the Minister that one workplace fatality is too many.
“As the Minister has highlighted, the construction industry is a high-risk and complex industry and it is therefore rightly an important area of focus for developing better safety outcomes,” said Master Builders Victoria CEO, Rebecca Casson.
“Master Builders considers that existing laws such as reckless endangerment, and the penalties attached to that offence, remain appropriate for penalising serious safety offences. Therefore, it is vital that a range of solutions is considered by the taskforce and that any solutions developed through the taskforce will result in practical and fair safety outcomes for all industries and our community.”
“Master Builders is committed to improved safety outcomes in the building and construction industry. We will continue to collaborate with industry, government and WorkSafe to develop practical and meaningful education and compliance tools towards improving safety outcomes,” Ms Casson concluded.