WA safety measures welcome

UnionsWA has today welcomed the announcement by Premier McGowan of measures to improve work health and safety.

Meredith Hammat, Secretary UnionsWA said:

“At the end of the working day, everyone deserves to come home safely.

“Too many West Australians never return from work to their loved ones.

The rate of work fatalities in Western Australia is significantly higher than the national average.

“The rate of serious injury through work in WA is the worst in Australia.

“The measures announced today will save lives and prevent injuries.

Of course, these changes will come too late to save some lives, but those who have been traumatised by injury or the death of a family member will appreciate the significance of today’s announcement. 

“The announcement that the Government will legislate industrial manslaughter laws sends a strong message – unlawful behaviour or negligence that costs lives will have consequences, including jail time.

“If passed, WA will be among the first Australia jurisdictions to deal with work fatalities with the seriousness it deserves.

While we welcome today’s announcements, we look also look forward to seeing the detail of the legislation and we hope it will strengthen rights for workplace OSH representatives and remove barriers that limit the ability of unions to blow the whistle on dangerous workplaces.

Employing more  work safety inspectors and legal officers is an essential element to help prevent workplace death and injury.  

Today’s announcement more than reverses the cuts to WorkSafe endured by the previous Liberal Government.

“Those cut backs meant that over recent years far fewer workplaces have been independently inspected to prevent injury or fatality.

Prevention is essential and we also welcome the announcement that there will be increased funding for raising work safety awareness among employers and working people.”

Statistics and References

In the ten years to 2016 the average rate of fatalities per 100,000 working people in WA was 2.6, while nationally the rate was significantly lower at 2.1[1]. 

Among working West Australians, we experience the highest rates in Australia of serious injury resulting in both a workers’ compensation claim and a long term (12 weeks or more) absence from work (see Chart 1 below).

Chart 1: Incidence rates of long term (12 weeks or more compensation) injury and disease claims by jurisdiction[2]

serious_injury_trands.png

In 2007-08 WorkSafe carried out 12,173 workplace visits, in 2016-17 that had dropped to 7,558[3], a decline of 38% in nine years. Over the same period the total workforce in Western Australia increased by 240,000 working people from 1,111,500 in 2007 to 1,351,500 in 2018, up by around 22%[4].

For more information contact: Philip O’Donoghue 0417 923 029 or podonoghue@unionswa.com.au

[1] see: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics-stateterritory

[2] ‘Comparative Performance Monitoring Review: Comparison of work health and safety and workers’ compensation schemes in Australian and New Zealand’ 20th Edition, 2018, Safe Work Australia.

[3] WorkSafe Division, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety – questions on notice from public hearing 2 October 2017

[4] 6291.0.55.003 - Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, May 2018


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