Worksafe urge workplaces to rethink safety after 'horrific' year

Three south-west employees died in workplace accidents last year, contributing to a ‘horrific’ statewide toll.

WorkSafe is urging Victorian workplaces to re-think their approach to safety following the increased number of fatalities in 2017.

A total of 27 Victorians lost their lives in workplace accidents last year - the highest toll since 2009.

Twenty of those occurred in regional Victoria, with seven people from greater metropolitan Melbourne.

The 2017 figure includes 14 deaths from incidents on farms, which is the highest number of farm fatalities since 2004.

Locally, fatalities included a 64-year-old man who died after the cabin of his prime mover was crushed by its load at Allansford in March and a 27-year-old man who died after being stung by bees while working in a garden at Dunkeld in November.

In December a 49-year-old man was crushed by a bull while drafting livestock at a cattle property at Dunkeld.

The figure is up on 2016 where two men died including a 69-year-old farmer who was trapped under a quad bike at Pomborneit East and a 55-year-old Elliminyt worker who was struck by an excavator bucket. 

It is also up on a single death in 2015 where a 45-year-old Princetown farmer was crushed between a ride-on mower and a pole.

WorkSafe head of operations and emergency management Adam Watson said the horrific toll was more than a statistic. 

"It represents families and friendship circles missing loved ones, workplaces devastated by the death of a colleague, and local communities left with a gap that can never be filled," he said.

"Employers and workers need to focus on how they can contribute to making their workplace safer. Who would hesitate to take steps to improve safety at work if it meant saving the life of someone they cared about?"

Mr Watson said that while the circumstances varied, the failure to identify and adequately manage hazards was a common theme, especially on farms and where vehicles were involved.

He said older workers continued to be over-represented. "Employers, particularly those using farm vehicles such as quad bikes, need to remind their workers to recognise risks and prioritise safety before attempting a task," Mr Watson said.

"Age and experience can never be an excuse to forget about safety. Nine of the people who died last year were over the age of 65, and 23 were aged 45 or older.

"Many of those who died were doing tasks they have done many times before, so it is important that everyone takes the time to plan their day with safety in mind. Together we must do more to reduce this terrible toll."


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