WorkSafe Victoria has urged all businesses in the state to do more to prioritise safety in 2017 than they did last year.
According to WorkSafe Victoria, 26 people died on the job last year and this warning follows the worst year for fatalities since 2009.
On it’s website, the work safety authority described 2016 as a “horror year” for safety which resulted in 23 men being killed and 3 women.
8 fatalities occurred in Melbourne and 18 in regional Victoria. The youngest worker killed was just 21 years old and the oldest 94.
Seven of the fatalities were from the construction sector and 8 from the agriculture sector.
The construction industry should be particularly cautious, given the nature of the fatalities that prevailed last year. Five involved heavy equipment and 4 were caused by a fall from height. Three people died as a result of electrocutions which are prevalent in the construction sector.
According to Marnie Williams, Executive Director of Health and Safety, the number of workplace fatalities in 2016 was “horrific”.
Williams went on to state:
“Tragically, 26 Victorian workers did not make it home safely at the end of the day and their families didn’t get to celebrate Christmas and New Years with their loved one,” Ms Williams said.
“Twenty-six fatalities in a single year is horrific. It can never be acceptable that any worker in Victoria dies just because they are doing their job.”
Ms Williams went on to explain that more than 46,000 visits to workplace around Victoria had been carried out by inspectors last year and these would continue in 2017, targeting high risk sectors in particular – of which construction is one. Last year the construction and agriculture sectors made up 58 per cent of all fatalities.
She also added that every employer in Victoria had an occupational health and safety obligation to keep their employees safe.
She went on to state:
“While workers have a role to play in keeping themselves and others safe, the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of employers,” Ms Williams said.
“The consequences of failing to prioritise safety can be catastrophic. As well as the devastation suffered by families and friends, a workplace fatality has an enormous impact on colleagues and, ultimately, the business itself as it is the employer who will face the courts should there be a serious incident.”
Ms Williams said the workplace that exhibited the best safety records were those where employers and employees discussed and acted on safety issues daily. She said we should all work together, employers and employees to ensure workplaces are kept safe to make 2017 a fatality free year.
“As Victorians begin a new working year, every employer and employee must do everything they can to keep their workplace safe,” Ms Williams said.
“Employers need to constantly reassess the work their employees are undertaking to ensure what they are doing and how they are doing it is safe. Employees need to do the same thing, and speak up if they see something that concerns them.
“If everyone does this, together we can strive to make 2017 a fatality-free year.”