The Victorian Government has urged employers to make workplace safety a priority this year, after 23 people didn’t make it home from work in 2018.
The number of workplace deaths has decreased in the past 12 months, however seven of the 2018 deaths involved workers aged 25 and under.
Sadly, four workplace deaths have already occurred in 2019 (including one recently involving a teenager) thus Victorian workplaces are being reminded to take care of their employees – particularly those who lack experience – and to provide consistent and appropriate training and supervision.
The Government has commenced work on workplace manslaughter laws and the establishment of an implementation taskforce.
As part of the implementation taskforce, the Government is establishing a Workplace Fatalities and Serious Incidents Reference Group to ensure that the families of those who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents can contribute to the reforms.
Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, said the lives of 23 families were forever changed by workplace deaths in 2018.
“While individuals have a role to play in keeping themselves and others safe at work, occupational health and safety laws are very clear that the safety of staff is the responsibility of every Victorian employer,” she said.
“We’re working with unions, business and the community to implement critical reforms as soon as possible, to save lives and keep Victorian workers safe.”
However, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has cautioned that the introduction of these new industrial manslaughter laws will give rise to unintended consequences which impair, rather than enhance, health and safety outcomes at Australian workplaces.
MCA Chief Executive Officer, Tania Constable, states that these laws will not contribute to general or specific deterrence or improvements in health and safety outcomes – which must be the priority.
“The MCA supports a legislative framework that achieves healthy and safe workplaces and provides for appropriate responses to where serious offences are proven.”
“Enforcement must be based on the desire to improve OHS standards at Victorian workplaces and prevent further incidents by fostering prompt sharing of safety lessons across industry,” Ms Constable commented.
“The MCA will continue to advocate for continuous improvement, where all parties work together in support of a safety culture based on trust and openness, not an adversarial legal approach based on a blame culture,” she concluded.