Friday 17 June 2011

Crackdown reveals thousands of safety breaches

There is room for improvement for businesses across the state after WorkSafe issued more than 2000 improvement notices as part of a crackdown on workplace health and safety breaches.

Manual handling, damaged storage racking, unsafe scaffolding, inappropriate storage of dangerous goods, insufficient return to work plans for injured workers and poor forklift traffic management were among the issues identified during the campaign.

Over the past 12 months as part of the Safe Towns, Safer Work Zones campaign, WorkSafe inspectors visited small businesses in 13 regional and suburban areas which had a high injury rate or which had not been visited before.

Inspectors visited 1546 workplaces and issued 2118 improvement notices for health and safety and accident compensation breaches across the state.

Twenty-four prohibition notices were issued and an additional 171 breaches were able to be dealt with on the spot.

WorkSafe’s General Manager for Health and Safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the results were surprising.

“Considering the businesses were given notice and information on the campaign, the high number of businesses who failed to address health and safety risks is disappointing,” she said.

“It is important businesses change the way they think about what they might see as minor issues around the workplace.

“We’re not talking about large expenditure and complicated issues. Slips trips and falls and poor manual handling – often caused by inadequate lifting or carrying equipment -account for 60% of all injuries. “

Ms Sturzenegger said despite some disappointing results, there were some standout examples of workplaces meeting all of their health and safety obligations.

“It’s great to see businesses making health and safety a priority in their workplace,” she said.

“Other businesses took the visits as an opportunity to discuss any issues they may have with the inspectors or ways they can make their workplaces safer.

“Businesses are often so busy with their day-to-day operations, they welcome the opportunity to meet with WorkSafe inspectors.

“It is far more beneficial for everyone if employers and workers take the time to look for and fix safety issues as soon as they’re identified.”

Moorabbin received the highest number of notices issued in a suburb; inspectors visited 145 workplaces, issued 278 improvement notices and one prohibition notice for protective clothing for spraying equipment. Another 19 breaches identified were dealt with on the spot.

Bairnsdale topped the list for regional areas, with inspectors visiting 98 workplaces and issuing 264 improvement notices for health and safety breaches.

One workplace was issued with a prohibition notice relating to an unsafe scaffold and another 31 breaches were dealt with on the spot.

Safe Towns, Safer Work Zones campaigns involve a team of WorkSafe inspectors who visit an area over a one-week period to check on compliance with workplace health and safety.

WorkSafe’s specialist return-to-work inspectors also took part in the campaign. Their role was to check that workplaces have return to work information available and also have a return to work plan in place for injured workers.   

Locations included Mansfield, Mildura, North Geelong, Camperdown and Cobden, Daylesford and Hepburn, Bairnsdale, Campbellfield, Preston, Clayton, Braeside, Melton, Moorabbin, Doveton and Hallam.

The 12-month campaign kicked off in Braeside in July last year and finished in Doveton and Hallam earlier this month.

Regional breakdown*

Location

Visits

Improvement notices issued

Prohibition notices issued

Fixed “on the spot”

Mansfield

62

101

2

17

Mildura

98

163

2

17

North Geelong

178

255

4

44

Camperdown and Cobden

60

68

1

19

Daylesford and Hepburn

47

31

0

9

Bairnsdale

98

264

1

31

Total

543

882

10

137

Suburban breakdown*

   

Location

Visits

Improvement notices issued

Prohibition notices issued

Fixed “on the spot”

Campbellfield

81

86

1

3

Preston

105

83

0

22

Clayton

159

233

3

31

Braeside

140

235

1

46

Melton

206

203

4

13

Moorabbin

145

278

1

19

Doveton and Hallam

147

118

4

34

Total

983

1236

14

168

         
Total overall

1546

2118

24

171

*Based on preliminary results.

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Rosanna Bonaccurso 0478 305 640

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.