Attwood Marshall Lawyers Compensation Law Graduate, Henry Garrett, takes a look at the grim reality; too many Australians continue to die or suffer catastrophic injuries at work. We need to continue to focus on workplace safety and protect our workers. .
World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day 2021
Today, Wednesday 28th April, is World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day. This day provides a vital opportunity to reflect on how to prevent work-related occupational diseases, injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
This day also gives everyone the opportunity to acknowledge and remember all the workers that have died from a work-related injury or illness.
Although statistics tell us that workplace fatalities have steadily declined over the last 10 years, too many lives continue to be lost, and in most cases, these incidents could have been prevented.
The numbers don’t lie when you take a look back at the statistics of work-related deaths since 2011. New technology, tougher legislation and penalties, and the benefit of hindsight don’t seem to have had a significant influence on the number of men and women losing their lives at work.
All employers must be aware of the duty of care they owe to their employees and the steps they must take to ensure their safety. Sadly, many do not live up to the required standard. This shows in the shocking figures put forward by Safe Work Australia each year.
It is a fundamental workers’ right to work in a healthy and safe environment, and everyone can play their part to reduce the risk of injury, and death.
The theme for this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day is “Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises and invest now in resilient OHS systems”.
This theme reflects the current global pandemic and how COVID-19 has impacted our working lives. The theme promotes the importance of building an effective, resilient, and adaptable workplace health and safety framework.
Timeline: Workplace deaths in Australia over the past decade
2011: 225 fatalities (208 men and 17 women)
2012: 231 fatalities (220 men and 11 women)
2013: 201 fatalities (185 men and 16 women)
2014: 197 fatalities (184 men and 13 women)
2015: 212 fatalities (200 men and 12 women)
2016: 186 fatalities (171 men and 15 women)
2017: 189 fatalities (175 men and 14 women)
2018: 146 fatalities (138 men and 8 women)
2019: 183 fatalities (177 men and 6 women)
2020: 178 fatalities
2021: 29 fatalities as of 15 April 2021
There are some very clear trends you can see in the data provided by Work Safe Australia. Below are the top four trends indicated:
- Men, every year, have made up 90% or more of the total fatalities
- Machine operator and vehicle related deaths are the highest contributor to work related fatalities
- New South Wales has the highest amount of deaths than any other state
- Fatalities in the Community and Personal Service Workers’ industry increased by 21% from 2009 – 2019.
What can employers do to reduce risk?
Employers have a non-delegable duty to their employees to keep them safe from any harm whilst they are in the workplace or in the course of their employment. As we experience, on average, over 180 deaths per year, there are several things employers can do to reduce the risk of someone injuring themselves or being killed.
Employers should put in place:
- Proper training and education for all employees
- Increased safety measures to reduce the risk of injury or illness
- Acknowledgement of safe behaviour and practices
- Regular meetings with all staff to discuss occupational health and safety
- Ensuring all equipment is up to date and serviced
- The use of warnings and appropriate signage
- Proactive measures to ensure a safe workplace. Be prepared, not reactive. Workplaces need to undertake a planned response to risk management, and ensure they identify all foreseeable hazards and associated risks on a regular basis.
By raising awareness of work-related fatalities and the importance of workplace health and safety, employers can take action to eliminate or minimise the risks at work and prevent further fatalities and injuries from happening.
Employees must also play their part when determining whether a system of work is of acceptable standard. Far too many deaths are not a result of the employer’s negligence, but the employee putting themselves in harm’s way and paying the ultimate price.
In many cases, these tragic situations can be avoided by using common sense. It is the ‘Australian way’ to get things done as quickly as possible and to soldier on without complaint, however this attitude may be contributing to so many unnecessary deaths of workers in our country.
Everyone needs to do their part to ensure everyone gets to go home to their family at the end of the working day.
Managing psychological and mental health risks
It is important to also manage psychological and mental health risks in the workplace in addition to physical risks. Under WHS law, you must eliminate or minimise the risk to psychological injuries arising from the work carried out by your business. Work-related mental health conditions are becoming increasingly concerning in Australian workplaces.
There are a range of hazards or factors that need to be monitored by employers to reduce mental health risks, including:
- Poor support to staff
- Poor workplace relationships
- Poor change management
- Poor environmental conditions
- Remote or isolated workers
- Violent or traumatic events
- Work-related bullying or harassment
- Staff burnout
As an employer, you need to apply a systematic approach to prevent harm, intervene early, and support the mental health recovery of your employees.
Safe Work Australia provide in-depth information to help you put the checks in place to make sure your business is properly set up to support your staff. Click here to learn more.
If you have suffered an injury or illness at work, we can help
Attwood Marshall Lawyers have an experienced compensation law team who dedicate their time to helping people in the community who are affected by injury or death because of workplace accidents.
Our No Win, No Fee Guarantee
We offer a ‘No Win, No Fee’ guarantee for WorkCover claims. We defer all the costs associated with the legal work our compensation lawyers perform during your claim. This means you will not have to pay any upfront costs. We also pay for our clients’ evidence costs upfront on their behalf so that they don’t have to. We only charge for the work performed if your claim is successful. If your claim is unsuccessful, we will waive our costs entirely – so you have nothing to lose.
Free Initial Consultations
We offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation with an experienced, specialised compensation lawyer, who will be able to advise on your prospects of success and tell you where you stand from the start.
It is our top priority to get you the treatment you need, and to ensure your future is financially secure. We do our best to take the stress out of the equation for you so that you can focus on your recovery.
If you have been injured at work, we can help you understand your rights and guide your through the claims process. Contact our Compensation Law Department on 1800 621 071 to organise a free and confidential initial appointment. You can visit our experienced team at any of our conveniently located offices at Robina Town Centre, Coolangatta, Kingscliff, Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.
Read more work-related injury articles:
- Injured at work? Easy steps to claim WorkCover compensation
- Contributory Negligence: What if my employer or WorkCover blames me if I’m injured at work?
- Proving what you cannot see – Workers’ compensation and PTSD
- Queensland’s first jail sentence for new industrial manslaughter laws
- Attwood Marshall Lawyers take legal action over death of boilermaker at North Queensland site