Thursday 13 April 2017

Country Victorians asked to prioritise safety

WorkSafe is calling on all regional businesses and workers to prioritise safety to help drive down the number of workplace deaths and injuries across Victoria.

According to new WorkSafe data, almost 7000 workers in regional Victoria were injured seriously enough last year to make a claim, which equates to more than 18 injuries every day. Health care and social assistance (1267 claims), manufacturing (1039) and construction (837) were the industry sectors with the highest number of claims.

The main types of injury were musculoskeletal (2136 claims), muscle or tendon injuries (1336) and lacerations or amputations (959), while the main causes of injury were poor manual handling (2386), slips, trips and falls (1547) and being hit by a moving object (1128).

WorkSafe Chief Executive Clare Amies said that, despite the fact that Victorian workplaces had never been safer, the number of Victorians killed or injured at work remained “totally unacceptable.”

“Last year, 26 people lost their lives at work, and the youngest was just 21. Eighteen of these fatalities were in regional Victoria,” Ms Amies said. “No worker should ever lose their life simply because they were doing their job.”

Ms Amies said more workplaces were making a real commitment to safety, but there was always more that could be done.

“It is a tragic fact that every workplace death and injury can be avoided so we need to ensure that safety is a priority,” Ms Amies said.

According to WorkSafe data, while Victoria’s workforce has continued to grow, the number of workers injured at work had fallen steadily. Since 2011, there has been a 12.5 per cent drop in injury claims - from 29,567 claims in 2011 to 25,861 claims last year.

In regional Victoria, claims have fallen from 7,772 in 2011 to 6,932 in 2016, a fall of 10.8 per cent.

Ms Amies said the fall in injury claims in recent years was heartening but more needed to be done.

“Safety at work is everyone’s responsibility and there are almost 26,000 reasons why we all need to do more to educate, inform and, where necessary, enforce good safety practices at work,” she said.

Ms Amies made her comments as she launched the 2017 WorkSafe Victoria Awards program. The awards honour businesses and individuals who have shown excellence in health and safety, or helping injured workers get back to safe work sooner.

Ms Amies encouraged businesses and individuals to enter.

“Many organisations and individuals are doing wonderful things to prevent workplace injuries, and help workers return to work after an injury,” Ms Amies said.

“Their work deserves encouragement and recognition, and we hope that by promoting their ideas and passion WorkSafe can inspire other workplaces to do the same.”

The categories are Health and Safety Invention of the Year, Best Solution to a Specific Workplace Health and Safety Issue, Best Solution to a Manual Handling Issue, Health and Safety Representative of the Year, OHS Achievement, Commitment to Workplace Health and Wellbeing, Worker Return to Work Achievement Award, Return To Work Coordinator Excellence, and Leading Return to Work Practice by an Employer.

Entries close on 31 May. For more information or to nominate an individual or business, go to www.worksafeawards.com.au.

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.