WHITE CARD UPDATE : REDUCTION IN WORK FATALITIES A recent report by Safe Work Australia revealed that the number of deaths that occur at work have declined in the year ending 2011, as compared to 2010. Interestingly the largest number of deaths occurred due to incidents involving falling objects. According to The National Safety Council of Australia : Notified work-related fatalities dropped for the six months to the end of December 2011, say the latest statistics from Safe Work Australia. Seventy work-related fatalities were notified to the work health and safety authorities between July 1 and December 31, 2011. This is eight less than for the same period in 2010. The Safe Work Australia data said the most common cause of fatalities in the second half of 2011 was being hit by a falling object, which accounted for 13 fatalities, followed by pedestrians being hit by vehicles, which accounted for eight fatalities, and air crashes, which accounted for seven fatalities. In Agriculture, forestry and fishing 17 fatalities were notified, followed by Construction with 14 fatalities, and Transport and storage with 10 fatalities. The median age of those who died was 47 years. The youngest was 3 years and the oldest 74. Source : http://www.nsca.org.au/E-Bulletin.aspx?pg=http://www.inhousemad.com/nsca/344/nsb_ 344_front.html
Studies like these are useful, in that they bring to light the progress being made in reducing work fatalies, as well as highlighting the areas that still need to be addressed. By working together with government, employers can reduce the number of incidents on their sites by adhering to proper occupational health and safety standards and codes of practice. Work Safe Victoria had this to say on the issue : There are many common solutions for controlling hazards and risks in the workplace, which can be readily implemented. But it is not enough to simply eliminate the obvious risks â€“ by law employers are responsible for controlling all potential safety hazards in their workplace.
Where solutions are not obvious, employers should use a process to help them determine the most effective control measures. http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/wsinternet/worksafe/home/safety+and +prevention/make+your+workplace+safer
Employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and minimise risks on their work sites, is crucial in the fight against workplace fatalities. The Hon Bill Shorten, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation also commented on the issue and released a press statement in which he reiterated the need to reduce work fatalities even further. The Minister had this to say : The Minister said the expert research in Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2009-10 showed Australia recording its lowest number of work-related deaths since 2003-04. In the reporting period of 2009-10, a total of 216 workers died tragically from injuries incurred while working. “The findings show that we are making some progress in reducing the number of Australians killed each year at work. But of course any work-related death is still one too many. What we need is real change in all workplaces so people feel confident to speak up about safety issues and indeed where necessary tell the boss the bad news,” Mr Shorten said. “The Gillard Government is concerned that the transport, construction and agriculture industries remain a particularly high risk for workers and bystanders. These industries are priority areas for action under the new work health and safety strategy for the next decade, due to be released in the second half of 2012. Source: http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/shorten/workplace-fatalities-unacceptably-high-and-costs-i njuries-work-very-high
Although progress has been made, Australians still have a way to go to accomplish the goal of a fatality free workplace. The Minister also voiced concerns about the high monetary cost of Incidents on work sites : The Minister also highlighted the other report The Cost of Work-related Injury and Illness for Australian Employers, Workers and the Community: 2008-09 estimates the total cost of work-related injury, illness and disease for the 2008-09 financial year at $60.6 billion or 4.8 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
“Work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities have a huge impact on Australian society. They can physically and mentally affect workers, colleagues, employers, families and the community. This latest research is evidence of the significant cost to Australia’s economy. Workplace safety is not just about avoiding human tragedy it is also about reducing economic cost for the nation,” he said. Source: http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/shorten/workplace-fatalities-unacceptably-high-and-costs-i njuries-work-very-high
More information on the reports and can be found at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au Reduction in construction site fatalities is one of the key objectives of the White Card course Posted by Peter Cutforth
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