UnionsWA has commented on the release today by SafeWork Australia of its ‘Work-Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australian 2013’ report which shows that work deaths in WA have risen for the first time since 2006, while nationally there have been falls over the past eleven years.
Meredith Hammat, Secretary UnionsWA said:
“In 2013 twenty-nine West Australian workers did not return home to their families as the result of a work-related fatality.
“That is a tragedy and our thoughts are with their family, friends and co-workers.
“Tragedy should not be made worse by ignorance or inaction.
“But these figures show that while Australia-wide work-related fatalities have fallen over the past eleven years, they are on the rise in WA for the first time since 2006.
“There is no comfort in the knowledge that fatality rates are higher in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, as on this horrible leader table WA is worse than all the mainland states of Australia.
“It is a credit to our health and safety laws, and the practices of most employers and working people that we saw falling rates of work-related fatalities continuously from a high point in 2006 through to 2012.
“More needs to be done now before these grim figures in WA get even worse.
“We need a strong workplace safety watchdog in WA and the Barnett Government should urgently rethink recent budget cuts to WorkSafe.
“The Barnett Government has failed to enact stronger occupational health and safety laws to impose harsher penalties on law-breakers, protect whistle-lowers and improve workplace support.
“Unions are concerned about the safety of all working people and the SafeWork Australia report notes that the fatality rate among those who are self-employed is four times than the average.
“The growth in sham contracting arrangements as well as genuine self-employment, justify the need for greater monitoring and support.”
‘Work-Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australian 2013’, SafeWork Australia, July 2014. Note coronial and other investigations are needed to determine the nature and cause of fatalities and whether or not they are work-related, making this the most recent and reliable source of such information. The report is available here.