95 Australians were killed at work in the first six months of this year.[i]
Whilst statistics show that the Australian annual work-related fatality rate is actually decreasing, this should not lull you into a false sense of security. Safety complacency still kills! What can you do to ensure you don’t join these statistics?
Fig. 1 Number of worker fatalities and fatality rate, 2003 to 2015.[ii]
Marnie Williams, Executive Director of Health and Safety at Workplace Victoria, explains:
"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."
State regulators keep records of OHS prosecutions that result in a guilty verdict. WorkSafe Victoria lists 49 such court cases resolved between 1 January 2017 and 30 June 2017. Of these, a total of 31 involved the:
The tragedy of workplace fatalities, is that often employers could have avoided them. Employers need to do everything in their power to provide a safe work environment. Anything less is often interpreted as complacency, if the incident goes to court.
Safe Work Australia recommends employers follow these four steps to managing health and safety risks:
Legislation dictates that control measures must eliminate risk of harm “so far as is reasonably practicable”. Where complete elimination of risk is not possible, then risk must be minimised as “far as is reasonably practicable.”
Fig. 2 Diagram of Safe Work Australia’s risk management process for workplaces.[iii]
Creating a culture of safety is also beneficial from a financial point of view. The fines resulting from the 31 court cases mentioned above, totalled $373,000. It makes good business sense to look after your employees. Not only for their sake, but for the health of your organisation.
Not sure if you’re compliant? Learn about our OHS Compliance Audit.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as legal advice, and was correct at the time of writing. Legislation may vary between states, and is subject to change.