According to an article I recently read on Abc.net.au the new OH&S laws which came into effect at the beginning of this year have so far been quite effective especially in Tasmania.
Tasmanian unions are of the impression that the tougher fines under the new workplace laws will help to continue the already dwindling numbers of workplace injuries.
Encouraging new figures have been released as part of the launch of WorkSafe month which indicate a 4 per cent drop in the number of Tasmanian workers injured on the job.
*Unfortunately the construction industry is still one of the worst culprits, despite some progress it still records some of the highest injury and fatality rates. Only the farming sector comes close in number of injuries in the state.
This article from Abc.net.au explains more about the views of government and the union according to their reps,
Workplace Relations minister David O’Byrne says there were 8,934 injury reports last year, 378 fewer than the year before.
“For the first time we’ve dipped below 9,000 injuries per year,” he said.
Four Tasmanians have been killed at work in the past year.
New workplace laws came into effect this year.
Unions Tasmania’s Kevin Harkins says they are helping combat an alarming culture.
“Tight timeframes, tight profit margins…just pushing to get the job done,” he said.
But Mr Harkins says Tasmania is still the second worst performing state behind Queensland.
Although it is encouraging to hear that injury rates are dropping due to harsher penalties for offenders, even one injury is too many, especially when it is serious because it can deteriorate over time and significantly affect a workers quality of life and ability to make a living. Injuries carry with them more than just financial costs, the emotional scars and physical suffering of workers is even greater and can seldom be corrected with any amount of cash.
But even the fines and penalties can be bankrupting to a business. Just last week, a man injured at work was awarded the state’s highest compensation pay-out of $7.5 million.
The article on Abc.net.au went on to detail some incidents of worker injuries as a cautionary tale to encourage employees and employers to practice workplace safety.
Last year, Chris Dornauf spent an agonising hour and a half with his arm caught in the conveyor belt of a potato grader.
He says recovering from a workplace injury is a slow process.
Cut all five nerves, or five tendons and two of the main arteries,” he said.
After eight surgeries and with more to come, he still has not regained the use of his arm.
He is now able to drive trucks instead of working the farm, but says he is more aware of what might go wrong.
“When you stand back and look at it, you think about how dangerous things are,” he said.
“It’s a big, it’s a lot different now.”