Wednesday 02 November 2016

Take care or risk becoming a Christmas statistic

Workers and employers must put safety first in the busy lead-up to Christmas to prevent workplace fatalities.

 

That’s the warning from WorkSafe Victoria which has revealed that workers are more likely to die in November and December than any other time of the year.

Over the past decade almost 25 per cent of all workplace fatalities occurred in November and December.

WorkSafe has released the statistics as it launches a new campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with working at this time of year.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said it was critical that employers and employees understood the risks associated with the busy pre-Christmas period and worked together to prevent a workplace fatality.

“It is a tragic reality that this time of year is deadly for Victorian workers,” Ms Williams said.

“Our statistics show almost 25 per cent of workplace fatalities occur in the final eight weeks of the year. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, so it’s up to all employers and workers to work together to make sure fatalities do not happen.”

Ms Williams said while the final two months of the year were a busy time for most workplaces, it should never compromise safety.

“We know that the lead-up to Christmas is traditionally busy with employers and employees rushing to meet tighter deadlines and complete projects,” Ms Williams said.

“In agriculture, it’s farmers harvesting crops or hay. In the construction sector, its builders, tradesmen and contractors trying to finish projects, and in manufacturing, its factories and warehouses trying to finalise and complete orders before the holiday shutdown.

“But no deadline is worth someone’s life. Last year we saw 19 workers lose their lives and eight of those alone were during this dangerous time of year.”

Ms Williams said employers needed to talk to their workers about the strategies that needed to be put in place to ensure deadlines were met without risking an employee’s life.

“The safest workplace is the one where employers and workers stop and take the time to think about the work they will be doing, and plan to do it as safely as possible,” she said.

“This could mean bringing in more resources or factoring in extra time. Yes, it may cost a little more but the cost of a fatality or serious injury far outweighs the cost of missing a deadline safely. It really could make the difference between life and death.”

Ms Williams said 24 people had already died at work this year, and November had yet to begin.

“One fatality is one too many. So the fact that 24 families will spend Christmas grieving for a loved one who died at work this year is devastating,” she said.

“We’re asking everyone to think about safety. Don’t become a Christmas statistic. For the sake of your family and friends, make workplace safety your number one priority.

“People should be looking forward to Christmas with their families, not witnessing a tragedy or attending a workmate’s funeral.

WorkSafe’s new campaign will run in print, on radio and online.

 

Workplace fatalities in Victoria (bi monthly, calendar year 2006-2015)

Month

No. of fatalities

Jan/Feb

40

Mar/Apr

40

May/Jun

33

July/Aug

31

Sep/Oct

31

Nov/Dec

57

*Figures subject to change pending investigation outcomes

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Peter Flaherty: 0478 881 663, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Caitlin Rode: 0434 685 577, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email info@worksafe.vic.gov.au or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.