Victoria’s on-the-job fatalities rise in 2017

WorkSafe Victoria figures show 27 people were killed in workplace incidents in 2017 – the highest toll since 2009.

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

WorkSafe is urging Victorian workplaces to re-think their approach to safety following a rise in the number of workplace fatalities at work in 2017.

Of the 27 fatalities in Victoria, 20 occurred in regional Victoria and seven were in greater metropolitan Melbourne.

The State of Victoria recorded its first workplace death of 2018 last Thursday when a stock agent in his 50s was trampled to death while drafting cattle on a farm at Georges Creek near Albury Wodonga.

WorkSafe’s Head of Operations and Emergency Management, Adam Watson said the grim stats showed that employers and workers needed to think more constructively about how they can improve workplace safety.

“This toll is 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,” Mr. Watson 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 of each fatality varied, 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 in the statistics.

“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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