While the Christmas holiday season may be a time of celebration and relaxation, companies and employees are being urged to slow down and put work safety first. Incident trends have tended to increase in the silly season.
Victorian Worksafe recently highlighted that between 2008 and 2017, 53 people died in the months of November and December as a result of workplace incidents. This two-month period accounts for 22.3 per cent of all workplace deaths.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety, Julie Nielsen said busy workloads and tight deadlines that often occurred at this time of year were no excuse for workplaces to cut corners on safety.
“Workplace health and safety is the responsibility of everyone, and as holidays approach it is essential employers and workers take the time to slow down and not rush to get things done,” Ms Nielsen said.
“There is no situation where getting a job finished is more important than coming home safely at the end of the day.”
Last year November and December became a tragic time for five families who lost loved ones in workplace incidents.
Ms Nielsen said the incidents showed it was important for every workplace to take care in the lead-up to Christmas.
“These incidents left families, friends and communities mourning the loss of a loved one during what should have been a happy, celebratory finish to the year,” she said.
Australasian Mine Safety Journal Consultant Editor and Principal of Safetysure Australia, John Ninness also commented on the need for increased vigilance during the season saying that there was available evidence that incident trends did increase during the period.
John said “There are a number of time pressures at this time of the year across a range of industries. Coupled with a range of “silly season” activities, people can be prone to letting their guard down when it comes to work safety. Employers and employees need to remember that there’s no job worth doing that’s worth a life.”
Ms Nielsen also said that “They (statistics) also show the dangers are not just confined to one industry, so everyone must remain vigilant, no matter what type of workplace they are in.”
“The grain and hay harvests have arrived on farms, the construction industry will be trying to finish projects before the Christmas shutdown, and the transport and warehouse sectors will have the Christmas rush to contend with, so it is a busy time of year for many workers.”
“We urge employers to make sure busy deadlines don’t compromise safety, and we ask every worker to think about the job at hand.”
“We want everyone to have a happy Christmas, and not be mourning the loss of a loved one, or dealing with a workplace injury.”
The recent Arc Flash related death of a power station worker meant that 106 people were already killed in Australian workplaces so far in 2018, as at 1 November.
While mining is fairing well amongst incident trends, the worst performing industry has been the transport, postal and warehousing sector with 33 fatal accidents to date – closely followed by 30 more deaths in agriculture, forestry and fishing.
Despite so many deaths of people at work, 2018 is on track to be safer at Australian workplaces than in recent years. In 2017, a total of 190 Australians were killed at work, and an almost identical number (187) died the year before.
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