Farming and construction cited at WorkSafe ad blitz launch

Sheep Central, January 31, 2020

VICTORIA’S Labor Government has highlighted the farming and construction sectors as it portends increased inspections to enforce new laws that can jail employers responsible for a workplace death for up to 20 years.

The Andrews Labor Government today said it is putting unsafe employers on notice with the launch of a new advertising campaign highlighting Victoria’s new workplace manslaughter laws.

There have been five workplace deaths already this year, and 24 workers died in 2019, with farms once again the most dangerous workplaces with six deaths. Tragically, two of these were children aged two and three years old.

The construction industry also continued to be over-represented in workplace fatality statistics following the death of five workers, the government said. Nine industries that recorded at least one workplace fatality last year.

Under the Labor Government’s workplace manslaughter legislation, companies will face more than $16 million in fines and individual employers, responsible for a workplace death, up to 20 years in jail.

Minister for Workplace Safety Jill Hennessy joined WorkSafe chief executive Colin Radford launched the advertising blitz, which warns employers of the tough financial penalties and jail terms they face if their negligence causes a workplace death.

The government is investing $10 million towards the implementation of the new laws, including dedicated support for families following a workplace death and a specialist WorkSafe team to lead investigations and prosecutions.

More WorkSafe inspections than ever before were undertaken in 2019, with 49,771 visits completed and 14,939 health and safety compliance notices issued. The government is strengthening WorkSafe by recruiting an additional 40 specialist construction inspectors by 2022, with recruitment now underway for 10 of those positions.

Ms Hennessy said employers are on notice that from 1 July this year they face steep penalties if they fail to protect their workers.

“Everyone has a right to return home safe from work, no matter what industry they work in – we’re putting more inspectors on the ground and doing more inspections than ever before.”

Mr Radford said 24 people died in workplace incidences in 2019.

“That’s 24 families, groups of friends and communities who have lost a loved one, a friend, a team mate or a colleague.

“There are no excuses for putting workers’ lives at risk and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute those who do,” he said.


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  1. Jack Cleary, February 1, 2020

    The catch-cry, and a valid one, however trite, of ‘getting home safely’ can be examined from various angles. One is that it’s not enough. I say that work should be designed so that people come home each day better in health than when they left. I also say there should be standards of neighbourly outlook for anyone ‘starting a business’ or employing people, including their families. That approach was touched upon by Lord Atkins in “Donaghue and Stevenson”( [1932] UKHL 100.

    Worksafe can issue tickets until the cows come home with very little net effect. I am personally familiar with the inhibitions on crippled-functioning of workplace health and safety over decades, leading to hypocrisy, rationalised-evasion of its apparent charter.

    Negligence is a very new aspect of law and still developing. Reckless endangerment (possible ‘industrial-manslaughter’) can be a very different matter from negligence.

    In closing it’s too much to expect agricultural people to ensure and supervise safe work practice without training and what they regard as ‘being trained’ might be poor, incorrect or non existent. Giving them a ticket is unlikely to change that. Proactivity has to be exercised, ie here is a problem, fix it.

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