Friday 27 May 2011

Bairnsdale high number of workplace breaches

Small businesses in Bairnsdale have received the highest number of improvement notices in a regional area as part of a WorkSafe campaign cracking down on workplace health and safety breaches.

WorkSafe inspectors visited 98 Bairnsdale workplaces between 16 - 20 May and issued 264 improvement notices as part of the ‘Safe Towns’ campaign.

One workplace was issued with a prohibition notice relating to an unsafe scaffold.  Prohibition notices are issued when there is an immediate risk to health and safety.  There were also another 31 breaches that were able to be dealt with on the spot.

Safe Towns involves a team of WorkSafe Inspectors who visit regional areas to check on compliance with workplace health and safety and return-to-work laws.

WorkSafe’s Manufacturing Logistics and Agriculture Director, Ross Pilkington, said the results were disappointing.

“The businesses were given notice that we were coming, so it’s surprising we had to issue such a high number of improvement notices,” he said.

“Giving notice that we were coming, and the types of things we would be looking at should have prompted a lot of safety improvement activity.”

Inspectors will return in a few weeks to check compliance with the notices issued and carry out more inspections. 

“Most of the 1000 injuries reported to WorkSafe from businesses based in the East Gippsland Shire over the past five years could have been prevented,” Mr Pilkington said.

“Although we have issued more notices than we would have liked, these businesses are now in a better position than ever before.”

“It’s in everyone’s interest to do this sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until a WorkSafe inspector arrives, or a serious incident to address health and safety issues.”

“The majority of businesses were happy to see us as it provided them with the opportunity to discuss any issues with the inspectors.”

The improvement notices issued were for a number of matters including testing and tagging of electrical equipment, forklift/pedestrian traffic management, maintenance of first aid kits, machine guarding, incomplete or unsafe scaffolding.

WorkSafe’s specialist return-to-work inspectors conducted seven visits and issued eight improvement notices. 

The inspectors’ 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 who are off work for more than 20 days.

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 or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.