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News Media Releases Tragic death on Rio Tinto mine highlights weakness of WA safety laws
Tragic death on Rio Tinto mine highlights weakness of WA safety laws
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 09:31

The tragic death of a young worker on a Rio Tinto mine is a devastating reminder of the need for stronger health and safety laws in WA.

WA unions have expressed sorrow at yet another workplace death and reiterated their call for the WA Government to adopt the strongest possible health and safety laws.

From the start of 2012 WA will have weakest health and safety laws in Australia as new uniform laws take effect in every state and territory except WA.

The WA Coalition Government has refused to sign up to five key aspects of the new national safety laws. This includes giving the Director of Public Prosecutions the power to prosecute employers for serious safety breaches and increasing the maximum penalty for employers from $625,000 to $3million.

UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk has repeated the WA union movement’s call for stronger laws to prevent more workplace deaths. “A fine imposed on a company after a serious accident or a death is small comfort to the worker’s family. The consequences of poor workplace safety need to be high to ensure cultural change throughout WA workplaces.

“WA workers and their families are right to question the Government’s priorities in this area and to question why the life of a West Australian worker is considered by this Government to be worth so much less than that of a worker anywhere else in Australia,” Ms McGurk said.

“While we do not wish to comment on the exact nature of this recent tragedy given it will be under investigation, the fact that we have had yet another workplace death in WA serves to highlight the inadequacies of our current health and safety laws,” Ms McGurk said.

This is the fourth workplace death in WA in the last two months. In WA, on average one worker is killed every 17 days and every 30 minutes there is a serious injury at work.

ACTU President  Jeff Lawrence will be in Perth this week to campaign on better safety laws for West Australian workers and to urge the Barnett Government to sign up to the new safety laws in their entirety.

Simone McGurk is available for comment.

For more information contact Madeleine Holme: 0417 060 360


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