Workplace deaths spark warning from experts

By Jeff Salton on February 6th, 2018
  1. Policies & Procedures
  2. Safe Operating Procedures


Never assume workers are ‘ready to hit the ground running’ after a break – that’s the warning from safety experts following three separate incidents in two days at Victorian workplaces last week, where two young workers were killed and a third sustained a serious injury.

The events prompted WorkSafe Victoria to warn employers of the need to make sure workers returning from holidays or starting work for the first time fully understood the risks involved.

Head of Operations and Emergency Management Adam Watson said: “At this time of year many young workers are starting new jobs, or perhaps entering the workforce for the first time, and other workers are returning to work after taking a break.

“It’s important that employees starting at new worksites are properly briefed on how to perform tasks safely and that those returning to work are reminded of the risks,” he said.

Mr Watson said young workers were particularly vulnerable and needed extra care and attention from supervisors.

“Young workers often lack experience and can be reluctant to ask questions,” Mr Watson said.

“They need to be educated about the risks involved in their jobs. Employers need to ensure they receive the correct training and supervision and feel comfortable about speaking up if they are uncertain about any task they are given.”

WorkSafe Victoria is investigating the three recent incidents – a young man was seriously injured when he fell at an apartment construction site in inner city suburb Fitzroy. Although there were no witnesses to the incident, it is believed the man fell about six metres.

One day prior, a 29-year-old worker was electrocuted while working near a live switchboard at a factory in the outer south-east suburb of Dandenong.

Earlier, a 17-year-old girl working as a stablehand fell from a horse and died at a rural property near Broadford.

The deaths in Victoria’s workplaces are already two more than this time last year.

What areas do workers need to be trained in?

The Health & Safety Handbook, written in plain English by the legal experts at Holding Redlich, has a chapter dedicated to helping you prepare workers for the sometimes dangerous tasks that lie ahead.

Training should be tailored to the specific needs of your workers. Anything that may pose a health and safety risk to your workers should be addressed in their training. If any of the following applies to your business, your workers will require training in these areas:

  • handling hazardous chemicals;
  • exposure to excessive noise;
  • working in confined spaces;
  • working at heights;
  • operating machinery and equipment;
  • performing manual handling tasks;
  • any area of work that requires a specific qualification or licence to perform, e.g. operating forklifts or working with asbestos;
  • any other high-risk activities that are carried out in your business; and
  • using personal protective equipment.

And, you should aim to do the following things in your inductions:

  • ensure new workers are provided with relevant information about your business’s safe work practices;
  • encourage good work habits that are consistent with safe work practices;
  • help new workers feel like part of your business;
  • demonstrate a commitment by your business to promote safe work practices; and
  • ensure that new workers understand the expectations and values of your business.

Obviously, this is only a basic introduction to the importance of training of induction. The Handbook chapter fully explores who should conduct training and induction, what it needs to address, when and where it should take place and how to gauge when workers are ready to undertake their nominated tasks.

Don’t guess how to do it. Subscribe today and check out the information for yourself on an obligation-free trial.

It’s much cheaper than defending your actions (or inactions) in court if you have been found to have breached your health and safety duties to your workers.


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